HomeAnalysisDepleted Australia In Their Lowest Phase In ODI Cricket

Depleted Australia In Their Lowest Phase In ODI Cricket

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Australian cricket is in a crisis. A major one if you dig deep. Eight months into another new series post the ball-tampering scandal, the Aussies seem stuck in a gaping hole. At the moment their positioning in world cricket in terms of quality has gone seriously down especially when ODI cricket is concerned.
With 7 months to go for the ICC World Cup 2019, Justing Langer’s side will feel they are miles behind the rest of the top teams. How it has come to this? The chinks in the armour were there right after the Ashes, when Australia were thrashed by England 4-1 in the ODI series.
Since then things went downhill.
Going into the ongoing series against South Africa, it wasn’t the way Justin Langer’s side wanted to start the summer on the back of a poor showing in the UAE against Pakistan. But they fell prey to their own shortcomings. If the batsmen failed to show up, the bowlers too had a negative energy that missed purpose. When one looks at the Australians playing, it is quite a moment of disdain.
For a team that won four out of the last 5 World Cups, this time it could be an embarrassing one if things don’t fall into place. Question is where will the confidence come from?
17 losses in the 19 ODIs the team has played since its series win over Pakistan in January last year doesn’t indicate any sort of positivity.
Win % in ODIs in 2018 (All Test playing nations)

Countries ODI Win%
England 73.91
New Zealand 70.00
India 70.00
Bangladesh 64.70
Ireland 61.53
Afghanistan 53.33
South Africa 50.00
Pakistan 46.66
West Indies 46.66
Sri Lanka 37.50
Australia 9.09

Batting collapses a recurrence for Australia

Australian team is missing the banned duo of Steve Smith and David Warner (Image: The Hindu)

Batting collapses have become a common thing in all three formats for Australia. The bans handed to Steve Smith and David Warner have further exposed the cracks. That was evident against Pakistan in the failed Test and T20 tour of the UAE, and Australia showed they were also vulnerable on home soil.
When you look at the mode of dismissals against South Africa, majority of the line-up fell prey to loose shots or shots that didn’t have any purpose in them. The pace also troubled the Aussies.
The six wickets loss against SA in Perth was a real low moment for everyone associated with the side. For the fans as well, the smiles and expectations too are quickly fading away.
The batting in Perth was indicative of the struggles they face without superstar banned duo Steve Smith and David Warner. The batsmen were largely to blame, being bowled out for 152 after being sent in to bat. Techniques were exposed. It’s only the first game but there are poor signs already.

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The stats do not read good

Australian team’s record has been poor in the recent past (Image: Fox Sports)
  1. Australia has now lost seven ODI matches in a row. For the first time in their history they have faced 7 defeats in consecutive games in ODIs. Their previous longest ODI losing streak was 6 in the year 1996.
  2. Australia’s win/loss percentage in ODIs is dismal in 2018. The statistic reads 0.100That is the worst for the World Cup champions in any calendar year. In no other year, has it even been lower than 0.500
  3. The Aussies have won just one ODI in 2018. This is a new low and is also their joint-lowest in a calendar year. The other four times they finished a calendar year with just one ODI win, they had never played more than 3 ODIs. They have played a staggering 11 matches this year.
  4. The hosts were bowled out in just 38.1 overs, which is the second-fewest overs taken before they were bowled out while batting first in a home ODI. The fewest was when they were bowled out in 26.4 overs against Sri Lanka at Brisbane in 2013.
  5. Interestingly, the Proteas have now beaten Australia in six successive ODIs.

Too many openers for their liking

At the moment, Australian team has too many openers spread out in the batting order

Aaron Finch is likely to be handled the responsibility of captaining the side going into the 2019 World Cup. Yes, Steve Smith and David Warner could return once their bans end, but the former cannot captain Australia for another year post that.
Aussies have to sort the batting out. They have too many top order batsmen and are spoiled for choices at the moment. There is a feeling of unfamiliarity of the batting order with at least 4 openers sharing the first four positions in the line-up. Add Warner to it, the issue widens further.
The likes of Travis Head, Finch, D’Arcy Short and Chris Lynn are all natural openers. With Short coming in at three and Lynn at four, the balance is not there. With Shaun Marsh missing the tie, the issues crept up, but even when he returns, the positioning will still be an issue.
The issue is after this series, they have a dual ODI battle against India at home and then away. Smith and Warner will not be available then. So Aussies have to make up with the resources available.

Finch needs to be smart

Finch needs to lead the side smartly in order to build a strong Australian side for the World Cup 2019 (Image: Sky Sports)

Australia took the field with five overs left before the break, perfect conditions for Mitchell Starc’s unplayable yorkers to wreak havoc. A surprising decision from Finch was to deny Mitchell Starc the new ball for the first time in over three years.
Quinton de Kock looked solid as he drove his way to a blistering 47 off 40 balls, setting up an easy stroll for the middle order to pass the home side’s score in the 30th over.
Smith also didn’t review his LBW. Given he is the only in-form player, he needed to be there. Australia need to identify the right captains for the three formats. If they feel Finch is the one for ODIs and T20Is, then he should have a talk with Langer and learn to make better decisions.

What’s the road ahead?

Aussies need to find a way to tackle the situation. Their morale is low and the added defeats make it even worser. Also one can clearly feel that they are yet to move on from the ball-tampering scandal. The aggression is missing and Justin Langer hasn’t done much to sort things out.
But they need to trust in the process. Langer should be given time and get the ship back to the shore. But the issue here is the World Cup is seven months away. Can they perform to their capabilities going into the mega event?
The series against India will be a difficult one. Up till now the scenario was different with Australia dominating at home, but India are a different breed now. One can say that the Australians need to use the series as a learning curve and work their way out. They need to have a plan and stick to it.
It’s been a worrisome time for the players given their form. But the team is still solid and have genuine match-winners. One needs to transform the mental blockage into something positive.
Perhaps a change of fortune can arrive if Australia do well in the Tests. That can help them get some much needed intensity.

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