Australia has managed to continue on its winning ways in the 50-over game, including victory in the 2009 Champions Trophy © Getty Images

 

 

By David Bonnici

 

As Andrew Strauss and his players celebrated their comprehensive Ashes victory with cheers and hollers under a storm of red and wide confetti, the press got busy writing lengthy obituaries about Australian cricket.

 

A golden era had well and truly ended, the repercussions of which were being felt around the cricket world, though few were in mourning.

 

Australia’s Test domination was in tatters so surely its place at the top of the world ODI tally meant nothing except to demonstrate flaws in the ICC rankings system.

 

What a difference a white ball makes! With the Ashes pain put aside the Aussies dismantled England with a 6-1 victory in the following ODI series, which signalled to the cricket world that a fourth successive World Cup victory was still well and truly in their sights.

 

However, its World Cup defence will be difficult without the superstars of the 2007 team, seen by many as the greatest in the tournament’s history. Since then the opposition, particularly India and Sri Lanka, have improved greatly, however Australia has managed to continue on its winning ways in the 50-over game, including victory in the 2009 Champions Trophy.

 

So, without the likes Nathan Bracken, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Glenn McGrath and Andrew Symonds and Mike Hussey, who are the potential series winners in the 2011 Australian World Cup squad?

 

Shane Watson

 

“Watto” played in the 2007 World Cup but was nowhere near the powerhouse he is now.

 

Ranked second on the ICC ODI all-rounders list, he is in cracking form as opener, scoring 2090 runs since January 2009 including 12 fifties and four hundreds.

 

One of these tons was a gutsy 161 not out (off 150 balls) against England at the MCG in January. That big century reignited Australia’s confidence and included a six in the last over to clinch victory; a feat he also achieved against New Zealand when he made 105 not out to secure the 2009 Champions Trophy Final.

 

Watson has taken 127 ODI wickets at with tidy fast-medium pace that often secures important breakthroughs in the middle overs.

 

Ricky Ponting

 

OK, so “Punter” has a broken finger, had a dismal Ashes Series, missed the ODI series against England and made 10 against Sri Lanka at the SCG in has last match. But you can’t ever write off Ricky Ponting, who as a 50-over player stands shoulder to shoulder with Sachin Tendulkar. This could well be his last hurrah.

 

Shaun Tait

 

If – and that’s a big if – “Wild Thing” stays fit during the tournament, he is likely to inflict plenty of pain on opposing batsmen, both statistical and physical. His stock ball is around 150 km/h and while he often struggles for accuracy batsmen know that the next delivery could be a low slung missile locked on middle stump.

 

Tait’s career highlight was the 2007 World Cup where he took 23 wickets in 11 matches at a strike rate of 22.00, in conditions similar to what he’ll find on the subcontinent. He has an enviable career strike rate of 26.9. He was in good touch during the recent ODI series against England.

 

David Hussey

 

Known to Indian crowds for his IPL exploits with Kolkata, “Huss” finally started showing his brilliance in Australian colours during the recent ODI series against England. After a quiet start he made a match winning 68 not out in Sydney and then made solid, quick-scoring contributions during the rest of the series, often under pressure.

 

There’s still plenty of room for improvement, but good batting tracks and smaller grounds will suit Hussey, who particularly likes to drive spin bowling into, and quite often over, the fence.

 

Brett Lee

 

Lee’s return to top flight cricket has brought some much needed stability to Australia’s pace attack. He still has an ODI strike rate of 29.1, one of the best among players to play more than 100 matches.

 

While this record has been achieved over a decade, he bowled well within this range against England, in a comeback series that surpassed the expectations of most fans.

 

“Binga” took 11 wickets in six matches including a man-of-the-match 3 for 27. He’s looking forward to playing an “enforcer” role during the tournament in tandem with Shaun Tait.

 

(David Bonnici has been a cricket tragic since his seeing his first match at the MCG as a child, cheering on the likes of Dennis Lillee, Greg Chappell and Rod Marsh. The Melbourne-based journalist is a former editor of the Cricket Australia match programs and the prestigious ABC Cricket magazine. His desire for competitive cricket meant be probably didn’t enjoy Australia’s dominance during the past decade as much as he should have. Now he lives for every Aussie win.)