No Finch, but Australia will be very strong at the 2023 World Cup

Each nation that qualifies for the 2023 ODI World Cup in India will likely need to select a 15-man squad (unless the ICC allows larger squads because of COVID).

While the 2022 T20 World Cup and the Australian summer of cricket are still to come, it’s interesting to consider our best XI and four reserves.

It is easy to list the players in contention as some pundits do. Indeed, a recent Roar article named 30 players as contenders. But it’s a harder ask to settle on our best XI for this World Cup.

In this article, I seek to add value and list our best XI and four reserves.

No Finch – so who’ll be captain?
I wouldn’t include Aaron Finch. He hasn’t been reliable or dynamic for a good while now – in any form of the game – and will be nearly 37 years old by the time of this World Cup.

Australia will definitely need a fully firing top order. While Finch is a true ODI great, I’ve reluctantly formed the conclusion that he no longer offers us the necessary reliability or dynamism.

(Photo by Andy Kearns/Getty Images)

Finch has been an amazing player for Australia in ODIs and T20s since his T20 debut against England in 2011. In ODIs, Finch averages 41 at a strike rate of 88.  In T20s, Finch averages 35 at a strike rate of 145.

But unless there’s a drastic form reversal, Finch doesn’t make my squad.

I also wouldn’t bring Matthew Wade, despite his heroics versus Pakistan in the most recent T20 World Cup.

So there’s a theme of necessary regeneration in my top order.

For a settled approach across all cricket forms, Pat Cummins is my captain.

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Best XI
My two imperatives when arriving at Australia’s best XI are as follows. 

1. We will need batting depth including plenty of specialist batsmen who can play long innings. Depth will be just as important as power in this World Cup (if not more important). 

2. Given this World Cup will be in India, Australia will likely need to play two specialist spinners – Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar. This means Australia will likely only be able to field two specialist quicks in most matches.

So my best XI is David Warner, Travis Head, Steve Smith, Mitch Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Adam Zampa. 

Steve Smith

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

My reserves are Marnus Labuschagne, Marcus Stoinis, Josh Inglis and Josh Hazlewood. 

Of course, a lot will depend on whether Cameron Green can reliably and economically bowl ten overs in sub-continental conditions.

I back him in to do this – and we absolutely need such a player.

Green is more likely to reliably and economically bowl ten overs than, say, Mitch Marsh or Marcus Stoinis.

I acknowledge Green is as yet unproven in ODIs. There’s certainly no clear statistical evidence that Green is currently a superior ODI bowler than either Marsh or Stoinis – even looking at their List A records.

But my opinion is based on watching Green bowl over the past several years and is based in particular on how well Green stepped up in the Test arena as both an economical and a threatening Test bowler.

I hope we all have an opportunity to enjoy watching Cameron Green bowling in ODI colours as much as possible over the next 12 months.

On Mitch Marsh, he is in our best XI right now largely as a batsman only. But Marsh will need to ensure he’s in top form and is playing long short-form innings leading up to this tournament.

Marsh averages 33 at 91 in ODIs – meaning he usually only faces around six overs. He’ll need to demonstrate the temperament to bat much longer than that.

Mitchell Marsh

(Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

If not, I can easily see Marnus Labuschagne slipping in at four.

I am a fan of using specialists where possible in ODI cricket and Australia would be very strong with both Smith and Labuschagne in the same XI.

However – like Green – Labuschagne will need more ODI opportunities, and will need to score a lot of ODI runs, during the next 12 months.

I am a massive fan of Alex Carey in all forms of cricket, so he’d be my wicketkeeper.

Carey is sound behind the stumps, can hit out and can help rebuild an innings if required. He also presents a strong case to be Cummins’ vice-captain.

Josh Inglis joins the squad, then, principally as Carey’s back-up.

What’s Plan B?
Balance is always important for any ODI XI, and the key player for Australia in this regard is Glenn Maxwell.

If Maxwell proves able to reliably bowl ten (or close to ten) overs of off spin per match in this World Cup, Australia may consider playing one specialist spinner only.

As an ODI bowler, Maxwell averages 53 at an economy rate of 5.66. This isn’t a bad economy rate at all, but on average Maxwell only bowls a little over five overs per ODI innings when he does bowl.

This would need to increase – and if it does, Maxwell as a genuine all-rounder would offer Australia a legitimate Plan B.

Glenn Maxwell of Australia hits out

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images for ECB)

Under Plan B, our best XI is Warner, Head, Smith, Labuschagne, Marsh, Maxwell, Carey, Cummins, Starc, Zampa and Hazlewood. The reserves are Stoinis, Inglis, Green and Agar.

Conclusions
Of course, Australia will have plenty of quality in reserve with the likes of Josh Hazlewood and Stoinis in the squad. So there’ll always be scope to pick 11 form players for any conditions.

The main players I’d have travelling or on stand-by for injuries are Ben McDermott, Sean Abbott and Jhye Richardson.

The Indian squad will be very strong, and it’ll be hard to beat India at home. But I definitely see Australia making the semis if the above 15 make up Australia’s squad.

In fact, I see us as clear second favourites right now.

What do Roarers think?