About one month to go. You can hear the teams lining up to fine-tune their games for the big prize that is the World Cup. Such is the world of modern sport and cricket, that even as the fine-tuning is in progress, teams are forced to deal with macroscopic changes – some forced, some that are necessary because changes had not been implemented due to misplaced priorities.Either way, better late then never, yes?
Australia, England and India – the holy trinity that leads our game presently – have, by some mysterious coincidence – got the best opportunity to implement/test these changes in actual match conditions in cities/venues that will be hosting the World Cup matches in one month’s time. Of the three teams. England is really looking at some major changes which, in my opinion, were due for more than a year and possibly even longer. The good thing is that England seem to have acknowledged that ODIs are a vastly different beast compared to the Tests. The team that they will field in the triangular series in Australia is much more dynamic than most English teams that took the field in the last few years. ODIs demand batsmen who are capable of imposing themselves on the game and with batsmen like Moeen Ali, Eoin Morgan, Ian Bell, Joe Root and Jos Butler, England have atleast given themselves a chance to be adventurous in a format that rewards the risk takers much more than the longer format of the game. What about Pietersen, you ask? Let’s not get too greedy dear friends. This change of guard was a very huge decision already for the English selectors.
Australia – who are more often than not well ahead of the other teams in preparation for the big events in Cricket, have had a spanner thrown into their works with an injury to Michael Clarke. Trust Australia to be more than adequately ready to handle even a humongous issue like that. One would say, they not only have a back-up for Clarke in Bailey, but also a back-up for the back-up with Steve Smith. It also helps that Australia are on home turf – and for most International Sport teams that makes a huge difference. Not that Australia need it. Not in Cricket. That said, Australia will have to make sure they can lock down on the bowling unit where they have quite a few options on the fast bowling end, but their spin department has limited resources with only one specialist spinner in the squad. This is definitely not the 2011 World Cup, for sure. Eh?
Given the hysteria Cricket seems to drive the Indian sporting fans into, it is ironical that India seems to be the team under the radar in this triangular series. The settled nature of the team is quite eerie and very un-Indian like. A major part of the credit should go to the Captain MS Dhoni, who is a no-nonsense guy himself and for now, the team seems to mimic this very under-appreciated yet highly impressive quality of Dhoni. Expect all that to change in a hurry,should India not give a respectable account of themselves in the next few weeks.As has always been the case with India, their batting promises to hold the fort down, but the bowling appears quite scary, quite unfortunately, to their own team-mates. How well the bowling unit holds their own, could very well determine how far India make it – both in this tournament and that other tournament that follows this.
This tournament would serve as a nice launching pad for these 3 teams to get a hard start over other teams before the all-important World Cup begins. I would pick India and Australia to out-muscle the new look English team and make the finals. And so it begins….