Australia’s need for an ODI finisher

The Australia ODI squad poses in their retro kit Getty Images
12:14 PM ET

  • Andrew McGlashanDeputy editor, ESPNcricinfo


      Deputy Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England’s batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.

Things don’t look good for the defending World Cup champions, but with five more months left until they have to put the trophy up for grabs again, Australia have the chance to fix their ODI fortunes. They have a series against India starting on Saturday and here are three areas they might want to sort out

Can Australia push 350?

Out with the Big Bash hitters in with the Test batsmen (well, one current Test batsman and one who was a Test batsman last week but has now been dropped so is just a one-day batsman…it’s complicated). Australia are trying to work out the best way to formulate an innings ahead of the World Cup. It will help when David Warner and Steven Smith return, but they aren’t a silver bullet – the slump started when they were available. In recent times, it has been felt 300 is Australia’s peak no matter how well they play. The run rate hasn’t always been the issue – their overall rate (5.55) in the last two years is within touching distance of those teams clustered below the power-packed England – but they have often not had the resources left to propel themselves in the last 20 overs. It is about finding the balance that works with the players they have. Usman Khawaja could be asked to anchor the innings – Peter Handscomb is perhaps keeping Smith’s seat warm – with the hope the middle order can take advantage, although it feels as if a lot is on the shoulders of Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell.

Twin spin

Australia may have to delay using Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon together due to Mitchell Marsh’s illness, but it’s a tactic they are keen to employ ahead of the World Cup having seen the success of other teams. It is perhaps not surprising that in the last two years Afghanistan (198) and India (167) top the list of wickets by spin in ODIs, but it’s England’s haul of 111 – 64 of which have come at home, the location of the World Cup – that will be of most interest. However, for England and India, the success of the spinners goes hand-in-hand with the strength of the batting – they know they can buy wickets because the batsmen can chase down huge scores, or often have a huge score to defend. The other issue for Australia is that neither Zampa nor Lyon offer much with the bat, and they are likely to want to play three fast bowlers.

Richardson’s chance to step up

Earlier this week, Jhye Richardson was given a specific mention by Trevor Hohns as a pace bowler the selectors rate very highly. He could be one of the back-ups to the Ashes – he toured South Africa last year as part of the Test squad – but over the next few days, he has a chance to make a World Cup claim as well. His ODI debut against England in Brisbane was eye-catching as he removed Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales, but he found life tougher in England during the 5-0 whitewash and did not feature against South Africa earlier this season. Now, with the big three rested, there’s a battle between the reserves for World Cup places.

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