Australia



Chances of Success Rating : 8.0/10 (1st)



There is no denying the credentials of the Australian team. They finished top of the ICC Women's Championship standings by a clear margin, losing just three of their 21 ICCWC games - to England, India and New Zealand. Their record in this competition is beyond remarkable - they are the holders and they have won it six out of the 10 times times it has been staged. They have only twice not made it to the final.

In the last four years Australia have played 35 ODIs and lost just seven of them - four to England, two to New Zealand and one to India, plus they have tied a game with South Africa. When they need to win, generally they do.

This is why they are the favourites to land their seventh World Cup in the final at Lord's on 23rd July, but don't expect them to get everything their own way.

Their batting line-up looks very potent. They finally seem to have settled on Nicole Bolton and Beth Mooney as their best opening combination, after many failed experiments with various openers including Elyse Villani, Jess Jonassen and Meg Lanning. Mooney had a bit of a sticky start to her international career, but cemented her place at the top of the order with scores of 100, 67 and 59 against the Kiwis in the recent Rose Bowl series in New Zealand. It has meant that the more aggressive Villani can slot in at 5 behind Australia's key batsmen - Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry.

Lanning averages over 50 in ODIs and is ranked number one in the ICC ODI batting rankings. Perhaps slightly vulnerable early on, if she can get beyond her first few balls, Lanning bats big. In just 57 innings she already has 10 centuries (more than any other player in the history of the game) and 10 more 50s.

Perry, who used to be a fast bowler, who batted a bit, has transformed herself into one of the most consistent ODI batsmen in the world. Since the last World Cup, in 27 innings, she has scored a remarkable seventeen 50s and averages 78.77. She is yet to make it to three figures for Australia, but it would be no surprise to see her break that duck at this tournament.

The top five are supported by the evergreen Alex Blackwell, and keeper Alyssa Healy, which makes for a very strong batting line up. This is a side that can score a lot of runs, although with the exception of Lanning and Healy, the Aussie strike rate can be a bit pedestrian.

In the bowling department Australia have two match-winning leg-spinners - 32 year old Kristen Beams, and 20 year old newbie Amanda-Jade Wellington, plus left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen, and the highly regarded off-spining all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner.

The only weakness appears to be the Aussie seam attack, which seems odd to say when it is led by Ellyse Perry, who has the small matter of 113 ODI victims to her name to date, but as her batting has flourished, so her bowling has taken a bit of a back seat, partly through injury it has to be said. But she will spearhead the Aussie seam attack, probably in tandem with Megan Schutt, who has remodelled her action after having a tough year or so, when she seemed to lose the ability to swing the ball. Backing these two up are newbies Sarah Aley and Belinda Vakerewa. Neither have yet pulled on the baggy green cap for Australia, but with seven games in just 20 days, both may have a part to play.

Well led by Lanning on the pitch and by coach Matthew Mott, off it, Australia are deserved favourites to retain their World Cup crown, but they will be pushed all the way and cannot afford any slip-ups.

Comments

  1. I think most people will agree that Australia have to be favourites. Australia usually win this competition, and not enough has really changed to suggest that's unlikely to happen again. They still have the same core of excellent experienced players that will see them through in most matches. There are maybe indicators (like the departure of Farrell) that their pace bowling attack is not as great as it once was. Perry is more erratic these days, and has more regular spells losing her radar, but can often still be a match-winner with the ball.

    Off the field, there is a possible question mark over different aspects of the side, like the ongoing pay dispute - which may or may not affect performances. My own feel on this is that it may be a distraction but the players are too professional to let it affect them much. On the bowling front, the seam attack does appear limited. Sarah Aley is a good bowler, especially in the T20 format, but can she can recreate that on the International 50 over stage? Regardless, one simply cannot discount the ability of players like Lanning, Healy, Blackwell, Jonassen and Schutt to find a way to win from almost any situation. If any opposition team does manage to defeat Australia, it will certainly be cause for them to celebrate!

    If Australia do slip up it's likely to be earlier in the group stages. They sometimes are a little slow off the mark, but tend to build up steam and turn into a wrecking ball in the final stages. I think Australia may actually lose a group game, but if they do, that will simply act to kick them onto another level, and they will still qualify in first or second. Expect WI and NZ to push them early on, but they may be into their stride by the time England play them.

    I expect they'll then go on to win the thing, probably choking a team or two in the process, as seems to be their modus operandi. I do hope we see some close, exciting matches at the semi- or final stages though, as that will do the sport the world of good.

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