Mr Rod Marsh has this morning fronted the media to announce the 2015 Australian World Cup squad.
Although many commentators are initially claiming there are no surprises, does that make it the best squad possible?
Here is the list of chosen players:
Warner, Finch, Clarke, Smith, Bailey, Faulkner, Watson, Maxwell, Mitch Marsh, Haddin, Johnson, Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins and Doherty
On the surface, it appears that Australia have stuck with Warner and Finch.
Although there is clearly no issue with Warner’s selection, opportunities exist around Finch’s spot.
His T20I batting average is more than his ODI batting average. That is not a good sign.
You have time to build an innings in an ODI. I’m not sure Finch understands how that works.
To be fair, his last ODI series against South Africa was strong where he averaged over 50, but the selectors could have taken a braver option.
Wade opening with Warner would have been far more interesting.
Wade is in form with the bat, and his keeping deficiencies are less important in the ODI format. If he opened as de Kock is likely to do for South Africa, then it opens another spot in the batting order for another of the all rounders.
But that is all now just a pipe dream as Wade isn’t in the squad.
But Shane Watson is.
He averages over 40 in ODI’s. As an opener, he averages 46.
Think about that for a second.
With Warner and Watson opening, it allows for two all rounders in the team without weakening the batting order.
Now we are talking.
Finch, I’m sorry, but there is no place for you in the best XI although I suspect you will still play.
If this happens, the batting depth of the side has been weakened.
The Middle Order
It is hard to be critical of a middle order boasting Clarke, Bailey and Steve Smith.
If they all make it onto the park, it will match the South Africans and Indians as having the best numbers 3 – 5 in the competition.
There is some discontent around Bailey from some quarters, but I don’t buy it. The guy is an ODI superstar and provides Australia with their back up captain should Clarke not pull up.
Now, this is where it gets interesting.
I can’t see how Clarke will be ready for the tournament. He has been told he has until the 2nd match against Bangladesh to prove his fitness or be replaced.
If that happens, who comes in?
Cameron White would be my clear choice. He has stepped up every time he has been asked to in the last 12 months, adds plenty of experience and knows how to calmly close out a game.
However Smith / Bailey / White doesn’t look as strong as Clarke / Smith / Bailey does it?
This tells me that the squad is a clear batsman short and therefore, the selectors have erred in the makeup that they have chosen.
The All Rounders
Australia have chosen to go with four of them.
Faulkner, Watson, Maxwell and Mitch Marsh
Watson needs to play in the ODI side either as an opener or at number 6.
Faulkner on form would be hard to leave out. He bowls well and can close out an innings as well as anyone in the game. I suspect that he will probably only plays if Watson opens or is injured / rested.
Having said that, with the tournament schedule providing for only one game a week, no one should need a rest.
Mitch Marsh shouldn’t have been selected. The guy can’t even walk due to his torn hamstring. It was just stupidity picking him. The spot would have better been used by Moises Henriques or Cameron White.
Now, the perennial question about Glenn Maxwell.
Out of form with the bat. Bowls ok. Fields like a star.
Is there room for him in the best XI? No
Is there room for him in the squad of 15? Not really, but the selectors have a love affair with him.
‘He’s a match winner’ they say.
The problem with that is so is Warner, Bailey, Faulkner, Johnson and Cummins.
There are more than enough ‘match winners’ in the best XI.
Maxwell shouldn’t play. Not even against the UAE.
Haddin got the nod.
He hasn’t made an ODI 50 for over two years. It is another two years before that to see his previous one.
He played in the UAE ODI series against Pakistan and did nothing at all.
Wade played the ODI vs South Africa the other month and did very well coming in at number 7.
Haddin has opened the innings many times but would behind Finch and Watson in that regard.
Does it really matter that Haddin was selected over Wade?
Mitch Johnson and Cummins were locks.
With Steyn and Trent Boult, I expect them to be the best performed pacemen in the tournament.
Hazlewood and Starc will most likely swap back and forth for the 3rd seamer role.
No major issues or surprises here, although I would have liked to have seen Jackson Bird sneak in for some variety.
Doherty takes the spinner spot. The reality is that he is non offensive, although a braver decision would have been to select in form Fawad Ahmed. He definitely would have taken more wickets than Xavier.
The bowling attack is extremely strong, remembering that at least one all rounder will be in the team to back up the main guys.
So What Is The Best Team?
After some careless consideration, here is what is the best team for both batting depth and flexibility.
However, I bet we don’t see it play once during the tournament.
If I could pick a team without the squad restrictions, it would be:
So, the debate is now open.
What are your thoughts?