Australia have put themselves in a strong position to reach another World Cup semi-final by winning four consecutive matches. The crisis of their poor lead-in and two defeats at the start of the tournament is now behind them. However, there are still areas that can be improved and could become exposed if not addressed. Here are the key issues for him ahead of the date with England.
Steven Smith, Marnus Labuschagne question
Ricky Ponting said on the host broadcast, “He will get a reprieve from the Australians, no doubt about that. If this (the New Zealand game) had been taken away from him, his batting in the middle of his innings would have been despicable.”
Unlike the two other in-form teams in the tournament, India and South Africa, and to a lesser extent New Zealand with Rachin Ravindra and Daryl Mitchell, Australia’s middle order looks like a weak point. If the openers are to get off to a big start, Marsh and Smith, especially at Nos. 3 and 4, will have to find a way to survive. Or Australia will have to be more flexible in their order, as they did not have success against Pakistan, and send better openers against spin before Marsh to maintain the pace in the middle overs.
What is the role of Marcus Stoinis and Cameron Green?
In the last game, he picked just Maxwell and Marsh and the latter bowled only two overs for 18 runs. Stoinis’ fitness is a big concern. He has played just three matches in five weeks and bowled just nine overs in the tournament. He missed the first game against India due to a hamstring problem and the last two games due to a calf injury.
It was also telling that Green, who had already been dropped for Stoinis, played against the Netherlands but did not bowl and then was dropped when Head returned against New Zealand. Australia’s selectors preferred a more in-form specialist batsman in Labuschagne rather than retain Green as an all-round option, showing confidence in their specialist bowlers and working on Maxwell, who they were barely able to do. Were.
But if a bowler goes on the journey again, as Mitchell Starc did in Dharamshala, it leaves them vulnerable, especially if they do not score enough runs. If Stoinis is fully fit, he will likely be named in their first-choice XI as it strengthens the bowling and death-hitting and potentially means the middle order is less one-dimensional.
However, this means that either Smith or Labuschagne will make way leaving the middle to lower order to rely heavily on Maxwell who has been most effective when held back for the final 12 overs.
Mitchell Starc is yet to shine
The Dharamsala surface was generally not conducive to fast bowlers, which explains their poor performance, but their overall tournament has not been good. Australia has been one of the worst performing teams in terms of bowling the new ball, which is Starc’s speciality.
An ongoing groin problem since the Ashes has compromised his preparation and may explain why he is not as explosive. But Australia needs a bigger contribution from him. If Starc needs rest, he has no left-arm option in the team, with Sean Abbott the only back-up fast bowling support.
Alex Malcolm is associate editor at ESPNcricinfo