ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Finch eyes aggressive pace approach
A dilemma for Aussie skipper Aaron Finch after scintillating spells from Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins in Brisbane
Adam Burnett at Allan Border Field, Brisbane
10 May 2019, 04:42 PM AEST
Australia will be hoping to get the jump on their rivals via an aggressive wicket-taking approach through the middle overs of their upcoming World Cup defence in the United Kingdom.
The World Cup squad was due to fly out on Friday night for Gallipoli – where they will visit ANZAC Cove – before landing in England for another two warm-up matches ahead of their June 1 opener against Afghanistan in Bristol.
Pacemen Pat Cummins and a fit-again Mitchell Starc were head and shoulders above their bowling counterparts, posing a dilemma of sorts for captain Aaron Finch; when to most effectively utilise his strike pair through the course of 50 overs.
"All the trend and stats suggest that in the last couple of years in one-day cricket the teams that have taken the most wickets in the middle overs have been successful," Finch said in Brisbane on Friday during the third unofficial warm-up match against New Zealand, from which he was rested.
"That's something that we've identified as an area that we really want to try and nail. There is talk about … whether you have a burst with Starc or Cummins in the middle overs, and that's going to come down to the day; if someone gets off to a flyer, then you have to keep rolling out your big guns and making sure you're looking to take wickets in the Powerplay."
The absence of Jhye Richardson and the cautious management of Josh Hazlewood (who bowled off his full run in the Allan Border Field nets on Friday) means Australia will be reliant on one of Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff or Kane Richardson as a third seam option, with support from batting allrounders Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell.
Finch took considerable heart from the performances of Starc this week, who was exceptional on Wednesday in taking 2-14 from five overs and bowling at speeds close to 150kph. The left-arm quick got through another eight overs on Friday, taking 1-35, and Finch was tantalised by the prospect of his spearhead returning to the dizzying heights of the 2015 World Cup, in which he took 22 wickets at 10.18 to be named Player of the Tournament.
Mitchell Starc was bowling 🔥🔥🔥 in his Australian comeback game pic.twitter.com/P71oHWbrO0— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) May 8, 2019
"He was unstoppable in that World Cup so if he's anywhere near there, it will be very valuable," the skipper said.
"He's a world-class bowler, he's proved that in big tournaments, big games, big moments.
"It's really encouraging that he's been swinging the ball these last couple of days, which is such a valuable asset, especially at the top of the order."
Cummins was rested from Wednesday's match after beginning the week with two wickets in his first over, and he returned to the side today to claim 4-32 from eight overs. The New South Welshman is ranked sixth on the ICC ODI bowling rankings – the highest among Australians – and has been a key figure in the team's stunning form reversal this year.
While the identity of Australia's third seamer remains unclear, Finch was definitive when it came to leg-spinner Zampa, who shapes as another aggressive option in those middle overs and will be considered the first-choice spinner for the tournament ahead of Test off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
"His performances in India and the UAE were outstanding on wickets that didn't turn a huge amount," Finch said.
"But also against world-class players of spin, he bowled exceptionally well."
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
May 22: (warm-up) Australia v West Indies, Southampton
May 25: (warm-up) England v Australia, Southampton
May 27: (warm-up) Australia v Sri Lanka, Southampton
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's