As the ICC Cricket World Cup moves towards the business end, Sports Rediscovered brings to you an analysis of the chances of a key contender , Australia, with a special focus on their depth in batting.
Mitchell Starc bats for the Autralian team at No. 10. He has an ODI batting average of 27. To put things into perspective, none of the No. 10s playing for any other team in the Cricket World Cup have an average over 20. Australia bat long. Really long.
Batsmen’s World Cup
ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 started in the wake of its CEO Dave Richardson critiquing the size of the modern bats and how it has “shifted the balance” in favor of the batsmen. After 27 matches and 20 days , the tournament has lived up to the criticism. There have already been 19 scores of 300 or more. Some key data points to illustrate the point
- The highest score for a team in a Cricket World Cup has been bettered.
- The highest score for an individual batsman in a Cricket World Cup has been bettered. Fastest World Cup fifty has been bettered.
- Fastest World Cup century has been equaled.
- And, we still have 22 matches left in the tournament!
Matches that have bucked this trend usually had the bigger teams scuttling out smaller teams for less than 200 and being in touching distance of the target before the dinner break. The sole exception being the cliffhanger between the co-hosts in Auckland.
The 300 Benchmark
The frequency of 300+ totals meant that chasing them down is not as herculean as was once perceived. Ireland overcoming West Indies and Sri Lanka’s win over England have come with relative ease even while chasing 300+ targets.
This is not to say the roles of bowlers are pointless. Early in-roads are key. Scoreboard pressure will have batsmen’s work cut-out. South Africa’s loss to India and Pakistan’s defeat to West Indies, for instance.
With the tournament having lived half its life, the modus operandi is becoming obvious. If you’re fielding first, you’re bound to be chasing over 300; make sure your top 3 fires. If you’re batting first, you’re bound to get over 300; make sure your bowlers provide early breakthroughs. With 5 of the 7 matches in the knock-outs to be played in drop-ins – two being in Sydney, which is predominantly on the slower side – this modus operandi quite possibly could be the winning mantra.
The “long” knockouts
The format adopted for the World Cup since its 2011 edition – of having a Quarter Final instead of Super Six or Super Eight – ensures that the qualified teams have to be “on their toes” for longer stretches of time.
Having to play three knock-out matches to be crowned the world champions means that no team can afford a hiccup. You could top the group by winning all the matches, and yet one bad day can see you knocked out!
So what if one of the favorites face a hiccup? Do Australia, India, South Africa or New Zealand – widely considered as front-runners – have what it takes to go the distance? Could they chase down a huge total even if their top 3 stumble or if they fail to get early breakthroughs?
Yes, no, no and no.
Counting on the all rounders
Australia do posses the arrows in their bow, to rebound even if they falter. That is because of the number of all-rounders they have in the ranks. South Africa have bowling all rounders or Duminy as the batting all rounder . Both of India’s are spinners and can be one dimensional and futile in conditions down under. Moreover, Ravindra Jadeja’s batting expertise is debatable. New Zealand have one in Grant Elliot.
Australia have Mitchell Marsh. And James Faulkner. And Glenn Maxwell. And Mitchell Johnson. Also, as mentioned before Mitchell Starc averages 27.00 with the bat. Not to forget, a man of the caliber of Shane Watson batting higher up the order.
Prior to the start of the event, former Australian skippers Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh were among a handful who were vocal about the role all-rounders could play in 2015 edition of cricket’s premiere event and they may well be right!
All the bases covered in this Cricket World Cup 2015
So, what if David Warner, Aaron Finch and Steven Smith fail in a chase of 314? They still have Michael Clarke, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, James Faulkner and Brad Haddin before Mitchell Johnson. On the flip side, Pup has 5 other bowling options to work with should Johnson and Starc fail with the new ball.
Having had a washout and finding themselves at the wrong end of the thriller at Auckland has meant that the Aussies are yet to hit their top gear. Although unlike group leaders New Zealand and India or a peaking South Africa, Australia are best equipped for the worst.
So if you are a betting person, Australia has the goods to go the distance.