ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Lehmann has high hopes for star duo
World Cup winning coach has seen enough over the last month to know what to expect of Smith and Warner in England
14 May 2019, 04:48 PM AEST
Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann expects Steve Smith and David Warner to slot straight back into the national side and make a big impact at the World Cup.
Smith hasn't played an official ODI for Australia since January last year, but showed glimpses of his best during the recent World Cup warm-up matches against a New Zealand XI in Brisbane.
The former Australia captain batted at No.4 against the Kiwis at Allan Border Field, finishing with scores of 22, 89no and 91no from three knocks ahead of the start of the World Cup in England and Wales later this month.
While Warner failed to make a huge impact against the New Zealand XI, he was in scintillating touch in this year’s Indian Premier League and finished the tournament as the leading run-scorer with 692 runs from 12 innings.
Those recent performances have left no doubt in Lehmann’s mind that the experienced duo can play a big role in helping Australia retain the World Cup title they won on home soil in 2015.
"He (Smith) will be exceptional at the World Cup," Lehmann told Macquarie Sports Radio.
"People are worried about the break they have had with 12 months out, but you see them in the IPL performing and making runs.
"David Warner is an excitement machine, at the top of the order he can set it alight.
"If he has a really good tournament, he set us on the road to winning a lot of games like he did at the (2015) World Cup with Aaron Finch, they'll be hard to stop."
While Lehmann believes Australia are as good a chance as any country to claim the World Cup title, he thinks there are a handful of other sides in the mix should they perform to the best of their ability.
Lehmann nominated India, Pakistan, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies as teams with a chance of holding the trophy aloft and said England are a big chance to win a first World Cup title if they can handle the pressure of playing the tournament on home soil.
"The challenge for England is they are at home," Lehmann noted.
"It's going to be a big challenge... (with) bigger expectations and they are the No.1 team in the world.
"But they are No.1 for a reason and play a bold brand of cricket.
"(They have) copied what we did at the last World Cup, they take the game on and they've taken it to a new level by scoring 400 quite consistently."
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
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE