Former Australia batsman Dean Jones feels the team can win the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 if they make a few improvements in the key areas of top-order batting and death bowling.
Jones was part of the 1987 World Cup-winning squad and pointed out that the team had endured a poor run in the lead up to the tournament, but were still able to turn the tables when it mattered most. He is of the belief that the present Australia team can also spring a similar surprise.
"We have to firmly believe we can win," wrote Jones in a column for The Age. "And that's the kicker. Belief is everything to winning World Cups. The right attitude is that no matter what the opposition has in store for us, we have an answer.
Alyssa Healy and Pat Cummins were the big winners at the 2019 Australian Cricket Awards - see who else picked up prizes 👇https://t.co/ys8FwjzZZQ— ICC (@ICC) February 12, 2019
"In 1987, we were the worst-ranked team to win a World Cup. We lost our last five games before the tournament, but we felt we were getting better with each game. Each player knew we were still developing as a squad and we knew exactly what our roles were within the team."
Australia haven't been in great One-Day International form – since the start of 2018 they have won just three matches in the format while losing 13. They have even slipped to No.6 in the MRF Tyres ICC Men's ODI Rankings but the team showed some positive signs in the recent three-match series against India, where they won the first match and then dragged the other two matches into the final over.
We need to get wickets in the middle overs, that's where Pat Cummins and Fawad Ahmed come in
For the marquee event, the young side will also be boosted by the availability of David Warner and Steve Smith (subject to their fitness). Their comebacks will help solidify one key area, that of top-order batting.
"Our best option (for the top-order) is Aaron Finch, David Warner, Shaun Marsh and Steve Smith," wrote Jones in a column for The Age. "These four men can win games off their own bat."
Australia's bowling attack looks a lot more formidable with the likes of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood in the ranks, but there are areas for concern, feels Jones. He recommends that leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed be incorporated into the team to put pressure on oppositions in the middle overs and expresses concerns about the death bowling.
"We need to get wickets in the middle overs," he wrote. "That's where Pat Cummins and Fawad Ahmed come in. Fawad, in particular, can be devastating in the middle. He has all the variety he needs. He just can't get lazy in his action and delivery stride. He needs to rip it and get busy and he needs a captain to believe in him.
"My major concern is our death bowling. I have no problem with Mitchell Starc for our death bowler. My worry is Josh Hazlewood. I think Josh can do the job, but does he have the variety and pace required if a batsman is set? If not, who will bowl our final two overs with Starc?"
After the World Cup, Australia will immediately have to prepare for a testing Ashes series in England itself. Australia haven't won an away Ashes series since 2001, but Jones feels this team can do it.
"For Australia to win, Cricket Australia needs to organise a couple of good, hard three-day matches before the first Test. Every player needs work with the red ball after the World Cup and to quickly shift into red-ball mode.
"We'd be crazy not to have them in the team. It's about how much cricket they get to play between now and then."— ICC (@ICC) February 6, 2019
Justin Langer assesses the chances that @davidwarner31 and @stevesmith49 will be in Australia's #CWC19 squad.
"Everyone is understandably worried about our batting in the swinging, seaming conditions. I am more worried about our bowling. If we can get this right from the start I feel Australia will retain the urn."
The double of a World Cup and an Ashes sounds far-fetched even at the best of times, but if Australia somehow manage to pull it off, it will be the realisation of a dream. "We have the resources. Australia can deliver. Dare to dream, boys. Dare to dream," concludes Jones.
Personalise your homepage with an ICC account
News, fixtures and updates tailored to your favourite team. Never miss a moment!