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A big call, I know. However, without a settled bowling combination and all the old stalwarts, of both the batting and bowling varieties, showing signs of vulnerability I have been led to thinking that the upcoming World Cup in the Caribbean might not be the forgone conclusion most pundits are predicting.
Lets focus on the batting for a start:
- Andrew Symonds' bicep injury has all but ruled him out of the World Cup. I know Mr Cricket, Michael Hussey, is still around, but there is a limit to what even he can accomplish without the all-round presence of man-mountain Symonds.
- When was the last time Michael Clarke played a innings of substance that significantly influenced the outcome of the match. He does not seem to be in the greatest of touch at present and his bowling ability is the only thing edging him ahead of Brad Hodge for a first XI place.
- The openers have not put on a sizable partnership for a while now. First it was Matthew Hayden out of form and now that his mojo has returned, Adam Gilchrist can't seem to capitalise on the occasional start he manages.
- With Brad Hodge still settling in, if Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey are out cheaply the middle order looks and feels extremely brittle. For mine, Cameron White is not a fool proof option as the go-to man in the event of a crisis.
- For all the talk to the contrary, including the odd statistic to support it, Glen McGrath is past his prime and no longer the threat that he was during his halcyon days. His lack of zing off the wicket makes it easier for attacking batsmen to hit him off "that" ideal length.
- Brett Lee's international career continues on it's perpetual slide into obscurity. He cannot seem to move the ball off the straight and narrow, to the extent that even the Poms have no trouble playing him. He is not the leader of the attack that he was expected to develop into.
- Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait are inexperienced, insecure and unreliable. The odd burst of great balls will pick them up a few bags, however, in the gauntlet that is World Cup cricket their lack of consistency will be taken toll of by opposition batsmen. Even Darryl Tuffey was a world-beater on seaming tracks.
- Stuart Clark may be great as a Test match bowler, but he simply does not have the variations to cut in the ODI format thus far. It boggles a mind as to how a bowler who has been playing first class cricket for the best part of a decade does not have the confidence to bowl a decent slower ball in match conditions.
- Michael Clarke and Cameron White are not genuine spin options. With Ponting's lack of faith in Brad Hogg and his propensity to favour a four pronged pace attack, the Australian attack lacks the variety that is required on the low and slow pitches of the Caribbean.
It is rather early to be making predictions, I understand. Predictions the above thoughts, certainly are not. Merely the musings of a cricket fan who believes that we may yet be in for a little more excitement at the World Cup than we originally bargained for.
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