World Cup winner Mark Waugh believes a third successive crown would be easier for Australia to win if Shane Warne was still in the one-day team.
Waugh, part of the team who won under his brother Steve’s captaincy in 1999, said spin bowling was an area where Australia’s team could be improved.
He said: “The spin department is OK without being spectacular. If we had Shane Warne in the team, we’d be mighty hard to beat. He’d make our side stronger for sure.”
Five consecutive losses, and injuries to key players Andrew Symonds, Matthew Hayden and Brett Lee, mean the world champions are looking distinctly vulnerable. But Australia, though they are no longer rated the no 1 side in one-day cricket - a mantle which now belongs to South Africa - are still favourites.
The pitches in the World Cup are expected to be slow, and may assist the spinners.
But Australia’s only specialist slow bowler in their squad, Brad Hogg, has come under pressure in recent matches against England and New Zealand.
Warne, 37, was man-of-the-match in both the semi-final and final of the 1999 World Cup. But he was banned from the 2003 event because of drug abuse - and then chose to focus on Test cricket, ending his one-day career. He played his final Test in Sydney in January, where Australia completed a 5-0 whitewash over England.
Waugh is also worried about the quality of Australia’s fielding.
He said: “The biggest threat is from themselves - being off the boil on the day. The fielding has been terrible this summer - I’ve never seen so many catches dropped.”
Waugh wrote off England’s chances, suggesting India and Pakistan are the only sides capable of snatching the World Cup from Australia.
Asked which sides could cause an upset, he said: “Someone like Sri Lanka, the South Africans or the Kiwis, maybe the West Indies on a really good day with their batting line-up. But I can’t see the winner coming out of those four.”
He is crossing his fingers that both paceman Lee and all-rounder Symonds will be fit, at least for the key matches later in the tournament, because he has worries about some of the other seam bowlers.
Waugh said: “We’ve got a lot of experience with Lee and Glenn McGrath but the rest are a bit unproven. (Nathan) Bracken is pretty steady, but the other three - (Mitchell) Johnson, (Stuart) Clark and (Shaun) Tait - haven’t bowled a great deal at international level.”
So who will lift the trophy on 28 April in Barbados?
“When it gets to the knock-out stage, anything can happen on the day but if you forced me to have a bet, I’d be backing Australia,” he added.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Thursday, February 22nd, 2007 and is filed under General.
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