World Cup Preview #7: Australia

The Aussies. They may have lost their all-conquering legends (Ponting apart), they may have lost in India a lot recently, they may have lost the Ashes away and at home, but they are still a great one-day side packed with potential winners. They also picked up some sizable momentum by beating England 6-1. Even though it was at home, confidence is not to be underestimated. With Ponting, Lee and Tait back they look much stronger.

Shane Watson could well be in possession of a World Cup trophy at the end of April 2, even if Australia hasn't won it. I sense he won't take defeat very well. Either way, he's potentially one of the best performers.

Brad Haddin (or Buzzcut Haddin, as I call him) (no, actually I don't, I made that up just now) has returned to the top order despite T-Paine's worthy attempt to usurp him. I fully expect that change to be made at some point during the tournament.

Ricky Dubya Ponting has returned to the helm after his injury, and he duly scored a fifty on a difficult pitch against India's difficult spinners (subconscious Harbhajan joke). He doesn't disappoint at World Cups, this man, and an "eff you" scoring run could be coming up.

Michael Clarke's return to form coincided with Australia's 6-1 thumping of England, and just before the World Cup too. How conveniently convenient. He did fail in the first warm-up, though, being out-thought by Piyush Chawla. He'll have a decent tournament.

Cameron White seems to have lost his form, meanwhile, which is unfortunate because he's a huge player to have when the it's Powerplay time. I think he has a big one just around the corner, up his sleeve, in the tank, between the cheeks. Right, moving on.

David Hussey, the lesser brother, popped up just before the World Cup and began scoring. He has more batting time now, which gives him enough space to get himself in before launching an assault. He's the best spinner in the team, too.

Steve Smith has been called many things, such as 'fluke', 'shite' and 'right-handed Ravindra Jadeja' (the last one was just me), but you've gotta give him credit for the results. He does take wickets, and once in a while he'll score a porky 30+. Ferguson might be preferred over him, but that may mess up the team balance a bit.

Mitchell Johnson, random as he is, will do everything. He'll take five-fers, get smashed, score at least one fifty, and then lay a couple of eggs to even it out. I should stop, I get weirded out seeing him thanks to Alternative Cricket.

We all know why Brett Lee suddenly got into shape and form before the World Cup: Bollywood. When he isn't taking expensive wickets, he will record a chart-topping single, which I will download, listen to, and delete, all in a 30-second span.

Doug Bollinger hasn't brought his A-game of late, but his performance in India in the IPL will probably see him keep his spot. Also, his potential replacements, Hastings and Krezja, are rubbish.

Shaun Tait, the thunderbolt man, should play every game in my opinion. He has enough control not to go over 6 an over, and he tends to pick up 2-3 wickets a game just with his pace. He'll have a profitable World Cup. If he stays fit, that is.

Callum Ferguson will count himself lucky to be in the squad, even though he should have found a place in it anyway. Playing him would mean playing seven batsmen and messing with the team balance because he doesn't bowl, so I see limited opportunities for him.

Tim Paine, as I mentioned above, should be in the starting line-up, because he's a quality batsman who is a good foil for Watson. He can certainly stick around. In India, he will be mistaken for T-Pain and somehow end up doing a rap solo on Brett Lee's single.

John Hastings is rubbish. Him instead of Siddle? Really, Aussie selectors?

Jason Krezja is no Nathan Hauritz. How's that for a comparison? He'll get whacked if he plays. I could be wrong, but this is what I think for now.

Official-looking Prediction: Semi-finalists. The lack of a decent spinner will only get them so far, and without Michael Hussey, the middle order doesn't look as solid when Cam White is out of form. They will not make it four World Cups in a row.