Meredith: My Australian World Cup Squad.

Adrian Meredith names the 15 players he would select for the World Cup in England.

On Monday two things will happen: Game of Thrones will begin its 8th and final season, and Australia’s World Cup squad will be announced, in which they aim to defend their title and attempt for their record 6th World Cup win.

It’s a tough thing to predict, the 2019 World Cup. While England are hosts and world number 1, they have never won a World Cup title, and their main contender, rating-wise, India, tend not to do too well away from home, or at least outside of the subcontinent.

Australia, in spite of being so horrible for most of the past 12 months, are still 3rd favourites, and, with 8 wins in a row taking them from 0-2 down against India to winning that series 3-2 then beating Pakistan 5-0, both away from home, they might just have a hint of a chance.

Cricket Australia released 3 polls in the lead-up to this decision, essentially getting members of the public, or at least those who follow them on Facebook, to pick their final 15, out of their 22 players, in their 3 groups. In other words, it is not so much a case of picking 15 as it is a case of picking 7 to miss out.

(1) Aaron Finch
(2) David Warner 
(3) Usman Khawaja 
(4) Shaun Marsh 
(5) Steve Smith 
(6) Peter Handscomb
(7) Ashton Turner 
(8) D’Arcy Short 
(9) Glenn Maxwell 
(10) Marcus Stoinis 
(11) Michael Neser 
(12) Alex Carey 
(13) Matthew Wade 
(14) Nathan Coulter-Nile 
(15) Pat Cummins 
(16) Mitchell Starc 
(17) Jhye Richardson 
(18) Kane Richardson 
(19) Jason Behrendorff 
(20) Nathan Lyon 
(21) Adam Zampa 
(22) Josh Hazlewood

In trying to work out which 7 will miss out, I thought to look at their value to the team.

Shaun Marsh is a controversial figure. The furore over his, as well as his brother Mitchell Marsh’s, selection in the Australian test team has in turn hurt his case as an ODI player. While he scored ODI centuries as recently as January, in the 8 match winning streak he didn’t do a whole lot right. While he is there or thereabouts in making the 11 now, with Smith and Warner returning he is the first one to make way.

D’Arcy Short is a player who I’d like to pick if for no other reason than his versatility, what with being able to bat and bowl, but his bowling standard is a bit below international standard, and, with Finch, Warner and Khawaja all wanting to open, we don’t really want a 4th opening option. If this was a T20 competition he might just sneak in, but he is somewhat out of form and his ODI record is not quite up there, so I am leaving him out.

Alex Carey has been given an extended run in ODIs and T20Is, and is acknowledged as the best wicket keeper in the country, better even than test wicket keeper and captain Tim Paine, but the problem is that he can’t bat. With Matthew Wade batting up a storm, and included in this list of 22, it seems far too hard to ignore him, and, with the wicket keeping skill not being greatly different, Wade probably should make it. There isn’t a whole lot of point playing two wicket keepers in a squad of 15, so Carey probably has to make way.

Michael Neser is the other one to miss out in that second category, not because he is bad so much as he is untested. He had a very good domestic season but we have no idea how good he is going to be at international level, and a World Cup is not the place to try out someone new. Had he been given a try in India or in the UAE, and had he done well, he might have been a chance, but Neser will have to wait until next time.

Kane Richardson is another one who has been deprived of opportunities. He got a shot in the UAE and wasn’t too bad, but his namesake Jhye is head and shoulders ahead of him, and there’s no reason to have two.

Jason Behrendorff is pretty unlucky to miss out, especially as, domestically at least, he is above Jhye, but Jhye has shown that he can do it at international level and that means that Behrendorff misses out.

The seventh and final one to miss out is a tough one, so I thought to look at the four contenders to miss out, players who make the top 16 but might not quite make the final 15.

Peter Handscomb hasn’t been amazing at ODI level, and he even tried to market himself as a potential wicket keeping option at ODI level, and then, with that match-winning 117 in the 4th ODI against India, he turned the corner. He hasn’t done a whole lot since then but he has potential.

Ashton Turner similarly was on the outer, but his incredible match winning 84 from 43 balls says that he should play in the World Cup, even if he doesn’t play a match. Having someone like that as your reserve batsman is something that is going to bring great smiles to the players’ faces, and to supporters alike.

Josh Hazlewood hasn’t even played an ODI since South Africa toured at the end of last year, and he didn’t do very well. He has a great ODI record but he is known of more as a test player. He might yet play in the World Cup if Jhye Richardson doesn’t recover from injury in time, but he would never be ahead of Jhye if both were injury-free.

Nathan Lyon has been nothing if not consistent, taking 1 wicket per ODI match in each of Australia’s 8 wins in a row. It isn’t much, but it’s enough. He’s never taken 2, nor has he taken 0. If nothing else, he might be a lucky charm in England, and, if Australia want to pick two spinners, he could be the second.

It’s a tough choice between two very different batsmen and two very different bowlers. Peter Handscomb offers stability while Ashton Turner offers a mercurial element. Josh Hazlewood offers stability while Nathan Lyon seems to be something of a lucky charm.

In the end, my 7th and final omission is Josh Hazlewood, for balance more than anything. Given that we have five fast bowlers, counting him, it’s really one too many, as we’d never want to play more than four in a single team. While Handscomb and Turner might not be in the first XI, initially at least, they both offer welcome variety, while Lyon offers that option of playing 2 spinners. If Hazlewood does play, it will be as a replacement player, in case Jhye Richardson doesn’t recover from injury, but there’s no reason to pick him in the squad of 15.

My final squad:

(1) Aaron Finch
(2) David Warner 
(3) Usman Khawaja
(4) Steve Smith 
(5) Peter Handscomb
(6) Ashton Turner
(7) Glenn Maxwell
(8) Marcus Stoinis
(9) Matthew Wade
(10) Nathan Coulter-Nile
(11) Pat Cummins
(12) Mitchell Starc
(13) Jhye Richardson
(14) Nathan Lyon
(15) Adam Zampa

This team sees 6 specialist batsmen, 2 all-rounders, a wicket keeper batsman, 4 fast bowlers and 2 spin bowlers, offering a variety of options for all occasions.

As for my best XI, this is my team:

(1) Aaron Finch
(2) David Warner 
(3) Usman Khawaja
(4) Steve Smith
(5) Glenn Maxwell
(6) Marcus Stoinis
(7) Matthew Wade
(8) Pat Cummins
(9) Mitchell Starc
(10) Jhye Richardson
(11) Adam Zampa

Power openers, stable 3 and 4 before power at 5, 6 and 7, with big hitters at 8 and 9 will get us a good total more often than not. On the bowling front, we’ve got 4 frontline bowlers, then Stoinis and Maxwell to share 10 overs.

The team might chop and change a little bit, but that’s my core.

And that 15 I think will be either the exact 15 that are chosen or at least very close.

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