If there was ever a nation born to be world champions in cricket that nation would be Australia. They have won the holy grail of cricket a record five times (1987, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2015) playing in a record seven finals.
Australia dominated the cricketing world from 1999-2007 with a team brimming with legends of the game, from the wizardry Shane Warne to the precision of Glenn McGrath; from the grit of Steve Waugh to the determination of Ricky Ponting; the explosive opening duo of Hayden and Gilchrist, one could go on all day. Together they won three back-to-back-to-back World Cups in that time span. Modern day Australia may have invariably failed to live up to the standards of their predecessors but lest one forget they are the current World Champions, such are the standards set by Australian cricket.
Australia were the second side to reveal their squad for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Former captain Steven Smith and former vice-captain David Warner have made their expected return to the squad after serving a year long ban after the ball tampering scandal in South Africa. These two will be massive additions to the side, bringing a wealth of experience, grit, class and most importantly true match winning quality to the table even as Aaron Finch takes on the leadership role of the side. Mitchell Starc, the player of the series in 2015 with 22 wickets also make the cut.
The side has endured a rough couple of years, 2017 started with business as usual, the Aussies claiming a series victory over Pakistan at home, but then two series defeats away to New Zealand and India followed to end the year. 2018 was probably the most awful year in the long history of Australian cricket.
It started with a series loss to arch rivals England at home and then the same again when the Aussies visited Dear Old Blighty. Then came South Africa, the series loss at home were the least of the Aussies’ worries with two of their most important players making headlines for all the wrong reasons, ball tampering. Mighty Australia had fallen from grace.
No one gave them a chance in their home and away series against India in 2019. India were the first to visit and won the three match series as expected, however, the big surprise came when Australia went to play in India. The five match series was playing out as expected, India going into the third match with a two-nil series lead, but then suddenly everything was turned on its head, Australia stunned India and the cricketing world to win the final three games and the series.
A whitewash of Pakistan back at home ground saw Australia finish their preparations for the upcoming tournament with a flourish.
This might be the first time in recent memory that Australia aren’t going to the World Cup as favourites. They have played in every final since 1996 with the exception of the 2011 final where they lost to eventual champions India in the quarter finals. The past few years have been tough but it looks all the more worse because it’s been taken in contrast with their indomitable success in the past two decades. After their recent miserable fortunes the time is now for Steve Smith, David Warner and Australia to show the world what they’re made of, and what better stage to showcase it than the World Cup?