Australia’s ODI Series Opener: Starc and Maxwell Benched
In the buildup to the highly anticipated ODI series opener against India in Mohali, the Australian cricket team faces some key player setbacks. Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell, two prominent names in the squad, will not feature in the initial match. However, Captain Pat Cummins remains optimistic about their later participation in the three-match series.
Returning from Injuries
Starc and Maxwell are part of a group of senior players, which includes Cummins himself, returning from injuries that sidelined them during the South Africa series. Starc, recovering from a groin injury sustained during the Ashes, and Maxwell, who had paternity leave and left South Africa early due to ankle soreness, are set to join the squad later.
Cummins, who has recuperated from a wrist injury, expresses his desire to play all three matches, while Steven Smith, also recovering from a wrist problem post-Ashes, is making a return to the lineup.
Balancing Act for the World Cup
Captain Cummins sheds light on the team’s strategy for the upcoming matches, emphasizing the need to strike a balance between winning games and preparing for the World Cup. He mentions trying out different combinations and structuring the team closely to the World Cup plan. Cummins aims to understand the nuances of using bowlers in Indian conditions, which may differ from those in South Africa or Australia.
He remarks, “So batters batting in similar positions, … and as a captain I want to get used to how you use your bowlers over here, it might be a bit different to say South Africa or Australia. Does the second spinner play a part? Hopefully, we get some answers over the next few games.”
Maxwell’s Uncertain Workload
There remains uncertainty about the workload Glenn Maxwell can handle in ODI cricket. Maxwell, who suffered a badly broken leg last year, acknowledges the need to be smart about approaching his game ahead of the World Cup. His role as a second spinner in certain conditions becomes crucial, especially after Travis Head’s injury, in addition to his explosive batting.
Building a Deep Batting Order
In preparation for the World Cup, Australia has focused on building a deep batting order. Captain Cummins assures that this balance will continue, with the possibility of including an extra specialist bowler on occasion. The team has explored options such as Marcus Stoinis as a new-ball bowler and Cameron Green in the top order. Despite his injury in Johannesburg, Sean Abbott remains a valuable pace-bowling all-round option. Aaron Hardie is also available as cover for Abbott and Nathan Ellis.
Cummins explains, “You need five bowlers, so the more allrounders you have you can really bolster your batting. It gives us flexibility to pick four genuine or maybe three bowlers and bat an allrounder at No. 8. Hopefully Maxi comes back later in the series, but the other three guys have been bowling fantastically.”
From Australia’s preliminary World Cup squad, Ashton Agar will not be available for this series as he has returned home for the birth of his child.
As the ODI series opener approaches, Australia faces both challenges and opportunities in their quest for World Cup success. While Starc and Maxwell’s absence is a setback, Captain Cummins and the team are determined to make the most of the series, fine-tuning their strategies and evaluating their options for the upcoming cricket extravaganza.