In this edition of the World Cup team profiles, GSV takes a look at the co-hosts, Australia and New Zealand, who both came into the tournament looking good value for their places, and will both be mentioned among potential candidates to lift the trophy come March 29th.
ICC Ranking: 1st
Best performance: Winners (1987; 1999; 2003; 2007)
Captain: Michael Clarke
Coach: Darren Lehmann
Highest ranked bowler: Mitchell Johnson (5th)
Highest ranked batsman: George Bailey (11th)
Recent ODI form: W – WWW-
Squad: Michael Clarke (Middle Order Batsman); George Bailey (Top Order Batsman); Pat Cummins (Bowler); Xavier Doherty (Bowler); Josh Hazlewood (Bowler); Aaron Finch (Top Order Batsman); James Faulkner; Brad Haddin (Wicketkeeper/Batsman); Mitchell Johnson (Bowler); Glenn Maxwell; Mitchell Marsh (Top Order Batsman); Steven Smith (All-rounder); Mitchell Starc (Bowler); David Warner (Opening Batsman); Shane Watson (All-rounder).
The Grand Stand View
Australia came into this tournament on the back of an impressive run of results against the likes of England and India, not losing a single game during their series with the respective countries. The Aussies carried that momentum through to their World Cup warm up fixtures, where they recorded victories against India and the UAE. The combination of a classy batting line up and an aggressive bowling attack has been key to their success in the build up to this edition of the world cup.
The Australian team has shown a lot of character and mental strength, having been rocked by the tragic loss of teammate Phil Hughes, who passed away in November. His memory and honour will surely serve as a motivating factor for the 4 time World Cup winners. Hughes would have formed part of an impressive batting line up which includes the likes of skipper Michael Clarke, Aaron Finch, Steven Smith and David Warner. These men, who have all put in impressive performances in the build up to the tournament, will be looking to replicate that form, which has already seen them beat England by a neat 111 runs in their opening fixture. The abandonment of their match against Bangladesh (due to poor weather conditions) means that the Aussies will have to outclass their co-hosts New Zealand in next Saturday’s headline clash, to ensure that their tournament gets back on track.
ICC Ranking: 5th
Best performance: Semi-finalists (1975; 1979; 1992; 1999; 2007; 2011)
Captain: Brendon McCullum
Coach: Michael Hesson
Highest ranked bowler: Kyle Mills (20th)
Highest ranked batsman: Kane Williamson (6th)
Recent ODI form: – WWWW
Squad: Brandon McCullum (Wicketkeeper Batsman); Corey Anderson; Tom Latham; Grant Elliot; Martin Guptill (Top-order batsman); Trent Boult; Adam Milne; Mitchell McClenaghan; Nathan McCullum (Bowler); Kyle Mills (Bowler); Luke Ronchi (Wicketkeeper); Tim Southee (Bowler); Kane Williamson (Middle-order batsman); Ross Taylor (Middle-order batsman); Daniel Vetorri (All-rounder)
The Grand Stand View
The World Cup occasion may feel like a case of “always the bridesmaid never the bride” for most followers of New Zealand cricket, with the team having made it to the semi-final stage on 6 of the 10 World Cup occasions without ever clearing that hurdle. But there is a different feeling within the cricketing world about New Zealand this time around, with the Black Caps having come into this edition of the tournament with a swagger and dominance about them. Captain Brandon McCullum and his troops have looked fearless and ruthless in recent fixtures, so much so that many are tipping them to break their ‘underachiever’ run and emerge as champions in 2015.
Series wins against Sri Lanka and Pakistan were followed by a 134 run victory against South Africa in their warm up campaign, while victories against Sri Lanka, Scotland and most recently England in their opening 3 fixtures of the world cup have seen New Zealand establish themselves as serious contenders for the trophy that has eluded them on so many occasions. Their bowling attack has been particularly ruthless, with Trent Boult and Tim Southee showing their class in recent games. Experienced head Daniel Vetorri has also put in outstanding shifts with the ball, and collectively they have ensured that the batting line up headed by skipper Brandon McCullum play with a sense of freedom and confidence.
This may be the year for New Zealand if they can carry this impressive momentum and avoid complacency. The leadership of skipper McCullum will be key, and has seen his side produce high quality performances that may well inspire a reshuffle in the ICC player rankings come their next release.