ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
The ODI meeting that mattered: Langer
Aussie coach reveals a key moment that triggered a turnaround in 50-over fortunes
16 April 2019, 06:22 PM AEST
Head coach Justin Langer has pinpointed a meeting in Melbourne last December as the catalyst for Australia's remarkable turnaround in ODI form in 2019, with the five-time world champions a team transformed and on an eight-match winning streak ahead of the World Cup.
Australia had endured the most torrid stretch in their decorated history in the 50-over format in the almost two years prior to that meeting, slipping to sixth spot in the ICC rankings in the process.
But in March, Aaron Finch's side came from behind to beat India 3-2 away, then whitewashed an under-strength Pakistan 5-0 in the UAE to build momentum and confidence among the playing group ahead of the World Cup, which begins for the defending champs in Bristol on June 1 against Afghanistan.
Langer says the seeds were sown during the Test series against India, when some unnamed key figures established a definitive 50-over strategy.
"When we were in Melbourne during the Boxing Day Test, a group of us sat down and worked out how we were going to play our one-day cricket," Langer told SEN Radio.
"We had a really clear strategy – and like in business, the most important thing is you get your strategy right, and then you get your structure right after that.
"We were very, very clear. There'd been so much talk around the cricket world 'Australia has to change because India and England are playing this brand of cricket'.
"But we've won four of the last five World Cups, and I guess we had to just ensure that we knew exactly the style of play we wanted to play.
"From there we selected accordingly and the boys played their roles really well."
In the series preceding that meeting – at home to South Africa – Australia had experimented with big-hitting top-order pair D'Arcy Short and Chris Lynn. Both players came with an X-factor reputation, with the ability to provide the foundation for the kinds of totals England had hammered against the Australians in the UK earlier in 2018.
Neither Short nor Lynn came off against the Proteas however, and for the first ODI series of the new year, both players were overlooked, along with Test batsman Travis Head.
In their stead came Usman Khawaja and Pete Handscomb, both players with long-term proven track records in the domestic 50-over tournament and widely viewed as more bankable than powerhouse pair Lynn and Short in the format.
Whether Langer was referring to this shift is unclear, however it was arguably the key change in the make-up of the side, notwithstanding the absence of regular opening bowlers Mitch Starc and Josh Hazlewood through rest and then injury.
After a purple patch of form with the ODI outfit, Handscomb has since proven particularly unlucky to have missed the World Cup squad, while Khawaja's outstanding form may well see him retain a spot in the first XI ahead of veteran batsman Shaun Marsh.
"There's going to be plenty to think about over the next 6-8 weeks … to try and find our best combination and the best way to structure up our side," said Finch after Australia announced their 15-man squad on Monday.
"(Khawaja is) a class player and the form that he’s been in over the last six months in one-day cricket has been unbelievable.
"He's done everything he can, he's got big runs and big hundreds in important games and when a series has been on the line, so that's a huge thing."
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, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
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