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Continuing on from my preview of Team India's chances at the upcoming World Cup, the following are my thoughts on Australian chances at this tournament. As with the previous preview, this has also been published on the Desicritics site.
The Age, today, carried a very pertinent story on the Australian contingent at the World Cup headlined, "Ponting Searches For Answers." Word, from the horse's mouth, is that Ricky Ponting has held top secret one-on-one interviews with his charges to get a feel for the confidence levels within his camp and whether the players are comfortable with their roles. In fact he asked them whether they even knew what their roles were for the tournament.
Now forgive me if I am mistaken, but I was brought up thinking that the Aussies were the team that defined, if not invented, the word confidence. Ponting's latest admission signals a distinct lack of confidence, and dear I say it, a lack of communication within the setup. This is very unlike the Aussies we have come to know over the past 15 years.
Around the mid-way stage of the CB Series, I had posted some thoughts around the vulnerability that was creeping into the Australians' play. At that point, they were still lossless and three-peat was very much the order of the day. Let me tell you folks, the Aussies are in trouble.
The talk we have heard since that whitewash at the hands of New Zealand seems like a deliberate attempt to put up a smokescreen. WIth an ageing Glen McGrath and no reliable or consistent firepower as backup, the bowling is clearly their achilles heal. Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson have more off days Indian public servants. Brad Hogg would not be able to find a place in most Sri Lankan first class teams and Stuart Clarke is a paper tiger in ODIs.
Sure, the batting has been able to put up decent totals, but even that department is looking shaky. Michael Clark and Brad Hodge haven't the most impressive recent results to inspire mountain-loads of confidence. If and when Andrew Symonds makes a return to the lineup, there will be immense pressure on him to repeat his herculean feats of the 2003 edition of this tournament. Will he be able to do it on such short notice? The jury is out.
If there is any team in this competion with the potential to make a liar out of me, it is the Australians. However, based on recent form and the general feeling of apprehension enveloping the side, I will be surprised if they don't struggle to make it past the semi-finals. Three in a row is no easy task, not even for a high quality team such as the Australians. I do not believe the Australians have it in them to win the tag of World Champions this April.
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