Source: @CurentAffairs via Twitter
Australia put England to the sword with relative ease in the 2017/18 Ashes series, inflicting a 4-0 defeat on Joe Root’s men on home soil. However, the two teams have trended in opposite directions since the Baggy Greens won back the urn.
The suspensions of Steve Smith and David Warner have left Australia exposed without their two top batsmen. As a result, their form in all three formats of the sport has taken a nosedive, although they were vulnerable in the 50-over game before the duo’s exodus.
Smith and Warner’s absence in the Test arena has left a huge void. It confirmed their defeat to South Africa, albeit that the Proteas had already established a 2-1 lead in the series. Pakistan secured a comfortable win in the United Arab Emirates, while India have already proven to have the upper hand in the batting department against Tim Paine’s side.
The two players should be restored to the team by the Ashes, completing their suspensions in early 2019 along with Cameron Bancroft. Smith has been the leading batsman in the world for the past two years, although Virat Kohli has made a strong claim to the position in 2018, dominating in the middle in all three formats of the game. With Smith restored to the line-up, Australia will be ready to face off against England, being backed as underdogs in the cricket betting odds at 11/8 to win the series. The 29-year-old was the difference between the teams down under, scoring 687 runs and producing match-winning performances in Brisbane and Perth. He has batted well in England in the past, although his form has been inconsistent when the ball has moved, preferring the flatter tracks of Lord’s and The Oval.
Source: @cricbuzz via Twitter
Smith has been the superstar that Australia have built their success around, therefore it has not been surprising that they’ve struggled to score runs without his presence in the middle order. Players of his quality are not waiting in line, next to appear in the order.
Warner’s return is less certain, given the manner of his exit and his behaviour before the ball-tampering scandal. Even though the Baggy Greens have had no one to step forward to stake a claim for a permanent place at the top of the order, it remains to be seen whether a recall will be in the offing for the veteran left-hander.
In their golden era, Australia had batsmen aplenty that were ready to step into the breach in case of injury, so much so that Mike Hussey and Chris Rogers were forced to wait until their thirties for a chance in the team. Matt Renshaw and Joe Burns are among the names that have come and gone, while Bancroft’s suspension will likely leave him out of the fold when he returns to action.
Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris are the current men in possession of the openers’ slots. Unless both players are able to thrive against India and beyond, the Baggy Greens will have to turn back to Warner. Although he is a quality player, his volatile nature remains a concern for a nation that is keen to have cricket in the headlines for the right reasons, rather than the negatives ones experienced over the last year.