Australia will begin its 2023 ODI World Cup journey in Chennai against India. It will then play two consecutive matches in Lucknow, against South Africa and Sri Lanka. Both venues are known for spin-friendly pitches, but the recent injury of Ashton Agar has left Australia with just one frontline spinner: leggie Adam Zampa. All-rounder Glenn Maxwell will be the second spinner.
Australia will have to choose two players from the trio of Marnus Labuschagne, Cameron Green, and Marcus Stoinis.
Labuschagne, of course, has vaulted into the squad at the last minute as Agar’s replacement, riding on a purple patch that has seen him make 421 runs at an average of 60.14 and a strike rate of 97.67 across eight games against South Africa and India. Considering the anticipated unavailability of Travis Head until the last week of October, it is likely that David Warner will continue opening with Mitchell Marsh, with Steve Smith and Labuschagne at No. 3 and 4.
The clutch of right-handed batters makes Australia vulnerable against leg spin and left-arm spin, who tend to be more effective against right-handers because they are spinning the ball away from the bat. To that end, Australia will be at an advantage if Warner bats deep into the innings, as he is the only left-hander in the Australian top-order.
Glenn Maxwell took a career-best four for 40 in the third ODI against India, which snapped Australia’s five-match losing streak. “Glenn’s been so dynamic across his one-day career, not only his ability with bat and ball but just the positions he puts himself in the field,” national selector George Bailey had said recently. Maxwell will be key to Australia’s success.
The skipper Pat Cummins’ limited game-time could also pose a challenge for the team. Although he led in two out of three matches against India this month, he has only captained four ODI matches since assuming white-ball captaincy last year.
Additionally, his white-ball form has been inconsistent, which puts the think-tank in a dilemma. It’s hard to imagine Mitchell Starc being left out of the team if he is fit, as he is one of the best exponents of reverse swing. As the captain, Cummins must be included in the team, but his recent bowling figures do not automatically guarantee his selection. So, in case Australia does go with two white-ball quicks in a game, there could be some brainstorming to do.