Almanac Cricket: Where it Went Wrong for the Aussies

As most of us are aware, the Champions Trophy has just concluded in England, with Pakistan surprising the world to claim the trophy. The early departures of New Zealand, South Africa and others came as massive boilovers to the cricketing world.


One of the most unexpected is the early exit of Australia. They would end without a single win, thanks to persistent rain in every game.


It started off in Edgbaston, when the trans-Tasman rivalry kicked off once more. Kane Williamson starred for the Black Caps, scoring a vital century, before Josh Hazlewood’s superb death bowling restricted them to 291 after their 45 overs. Australia then came out to bat, and lost Warner, Finch and Henriques cheaply. At 3/53, the Kiwis were well on their way, with a shaky middle order to come. However, the rain came just in time for Australia, saving them from what was shaping up to be an inevitable loss.


Next, we found ourselves facing off against the Tigers in London. The Bangladeshi total of 181 was underwhelming. Only Tamim Iqbal provided resistance, scoring more than half of his team’s runs, and was unlucky to fall five short of a wonderful hundred. The Australians were off the blocks early, and leadership duo Warner and Smith found their feet again at the crease. They had scored 40 and 22 respectively and didn’t look troubled by the Bangladeshi bowling.


Unfortunately, the rain that had saved Australia against the Kiwis robbed them of a certain win. The Aussies had gone well past the Duckworth-Lewis par score, and only needed to play out four overs to win. 16 measly minutes is all it stood between them and their first victory of the tournament. And luck was against them on this occasion.


Finally, we went head-to-head with a rejuvenated English side, who had won both their games and were the favourites to win the trophy. Both Aaron Finch and Steve Smith got starts and half-centuries, but were unable to capitalise and rack up a big total. Only an end cameo from Travis Head would add some decency to the innings, after a collapse of 5/15.


The Aussie bowlers started well, and England were on the ropes at 3/15, thanks to a fired up Josh Hazlewood. Unfortunately, that was all she wrote for the Aussies, and Matthew Wade’s dropped catch giving the skipper Morgan a reprieve turned the tide, as he and stokes combined to push England ahead on Duckworth-Lewis, and the rain knocked us out of the tournament.


A few things ended up going wrong for Australia in England. Obviously, the rain did not help their case, and had the rain not have been there, we would have qualified for the playoffs.


The batting order I think was poorly planned. Aside from the juggernaut top three that is Warner, Finch and Smith, what lies below that is a bitterly defrosting cake. The only one that has really shone through this is Travis Head. I don’t think that many of us would have considered NSW skipper Moises Henriques at number four, followed by Maxi at five.


The Australian innings basically revolves around the top 3, and if they all fall cheaply, Henriques and Maxwell are vulnerable, particularly early on in their innings. But let’s not forget that Maxwell is more than capable of rescuing Australia; think back to the first ODI against Pakistan in January, when he and Wade saved us from 5/78.


Also, I think Marcus Stoinis should definitely have gotten a gig in the tournament. We saw his match-winning abilities in New Zealand, in arguably the best ODI knock of all time.


So my ideal top five would be: Warner, Finch, Smith, Head and Stoinis. The number six position is always one of the most controversial. There were a few candidates for me. Maxwell? Handscomb? Lynn? I decided to go solely on ability to conform to any situation. As previously mentioned, Maxi has done the job before, not only at finishing an innings, but also rescuing one. Therefore, he gets the nod over the other two at number six.


Now the number seven is usually the keeper. Most of us will say Wade deserves his spot. But does he really? Sure, his batting is decent. But with a great lineup in front of him, it’s his catching that is letting him down. Thus, I believe Peter Nevill is the right choice for ODI cricket, to wicket-keep and bat at seven.


Number eight has got to be Faulkner. The fact that he was not offered a contract with the skill and talent he has was rather mind-blowing to me. He is great at closing out an innings with his death bowling and his late hitting, so he gets in my team.


The three bowlers shall be quicks. Zampa is quite unlucky to miss out on this team, as he has proved himself as Australia’s best limited-overs bowler. Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins will make this team.


But, in India, it will be a very different story. The bowling line-up will be a lot different. I believe that Josh Hazlewood will be rested so he can prepare himself for the Ashes, as will Pat Cummins. Thus, in will come Adam Zampa and John Hastings, to back up Starc and Faulkner, as well as the part timers in Head, Maxwell and Stoinis.


AUSTRALIAN XI FOR INDIA TOUR: Warner (vc), Finch, Smith (c), Head, Stoinis, Maxwell, Wade (wk), Faulkner, Hastings, Starc, Zampa


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