As Australia start their Int. home season, we wonder amidst recent controversies (https://ab.co/2Qj77Tg) this coming season would be a reckoning period for them?
First up they are facing South Africa in 3 ODIs and only T20I – followed by a complete series against India that will feature 4 Tests, 3 ODIS and single T20I match, then their Int. season ends with a 2-Test match series against Sri Lanka.
On current form(all format) Australia look very poor at home and away. Hence a comparison of progress(all format) between two World Cup 2015- finalist- viz NZ v AUS would be an interesting one. The assessment reflects great improvement for New Zealand team.
Since WC 2015 (till 2nd T20I v Pak, 2-11-2018) both teams had same amount of success(65 wins in all format)yet Blackcaps had better success rate @ 52.84% compared to Australia @48.50%. This was not the case prior to World-Cup(2015).
A 5 years range (all format) between Jan 1, 2010 to Feb 1, 2015(before WC2015) gives Australia 56.27 %success rate(all format) compare to New Zealand @ 40.95 %
If we look at Australia’s team structure in last 3 years, they have used too many players in all format. It has been a revolving door for their players and captains. Post WC2015 – 68 cricketers (38 debutants) represented Australia in all format.
This compare to 116 cricketers (87 in ODIs, 67 debutants) in 15 years (2000-2015) in all format. This suggests there was lack of consistent selection in playing XI, when experience players were retiring from Int. cricket. This is the major reason for their tumbling form.
Keeping this in mind the squad for forthcoming SA series does not include any to-be-debutants, but they have a new captain, a new keeper, and few comeback players.
The contestant- South Africa
The South Africans have chosen a strong 16 man squad. , in particularly customised with fast bowling. It features 8 bowlers and only 7 specialist batsmen (including keepers). This clearly suggest their tactics of using pace and bounce against a weak and new top order of Australia. The host without the likes of Steve Smith and David Warner will be severely tested in batting department. Last year, England after losing Ashes, got off to a wonderful start to their ODI series. They initiated with Mark Wood’s pace and bounce to unsettle David Warner and other top order batsmen.
England were relentless in their approach. They won the series easily with 4-1.
The South Africans have played only 14 games this year, the least ODIs played among top teams. Their fast bowlers are fresh. It is led by Rabada and experience fast swing bowler Dale Steyn. After almost a year with injury Steyn is back resuming his ODI career. Rabada along with Lungi Ngidi will use their pace to unsettle host.
The others include Chris Morris(playing after 8 months), Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo. They will be well assisted by spin duo Imran Tahir and Tabraiz Shamsi.
Their batting looks empty without likes of De Villiers(retired),Amla(injury) and Duminy (injury). The core is relied heavily on Faf du Plessis (captain) , Quinton de Kock (keeper) and late order specialist David Miller. They are supported by in-experienced openers Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, Reeza Hendricks.
For this series host Australia have chosen variable venues.
- Perth Stadium: last year this venue made its debut when Australia lost to England 12 runs. It would be 2nd ODI match v/s SA.
- Adelaide : – this venue has been regular feature in last few years.
- Hobart : 2015 was the last ODI played here. Australia v/s Scotland @ World Cup 2015.
(post World Cup v/s South Africa)
South Africa winning 6,
Australia winning only 1. The win was in a tri-series that was played in West Indies(2016).
In above analysis I mentioned the threat South African bowling would pose Australia. However it is their SA batting that has been posting big scores against them. Only once they lost all their 10 wickets to Australia in 7 complete games.
- 300 scores – 327(1), 372(2), 361(1)
- 250 scores – 252(2), 295(2)
In 8 ODIs played, these above scores went at 6.17 R/o, and ably supported by 4 Centuries, and 9 fifties. There is similar reply from Australians(5.80) – they too scored 4 centuries and 9 fifties…although all centuries were scored by Warner(3) and Smith(1), the banned players!. However only one score of 300 plus, and 5 scores of 250 plus
Australia’s inconsistent selection policy
With new captain(Aaron Finch) and a new keeper(Alex Carey), Australia will once again feature a new batting line-up!.
Like many Australian team in past this squad too has a strong top-order, but with less experience. In all probability captain Finch will open the batting with D Short, followed by S Marsh, Lynn, Head, Maxwell, and Carey.
The bowling looks strong with experience and pace. It is led Mitch Starc who is ably supported by his state mates, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood (making a comeback)with Coulter-Nile completing the fast bowling line-up.
Spin attack is led by another comeback bowler, Adam Zampa(LBG), who is supported by Ashton Agar (SLA)
The defying factor of this squad is, Australia(unlike SA) chose to have more multi-task batsmen, with likes of G Maxwell, D Short and Head, they have part-time spin and keeping options…if needed captain Finch can role his arm around.
Marcus Stoinis is their leading all-rounder.
JLT 2018-19 performance
Here is how domestic teams performed in recently concluded JLT tournament (50-over competition) (https://bit.ly/2PGHLBI)