The 2019 Cricket World Cup, hosted by England and Wales, is almost upon us and defending champions Australia will be looking to retain their title. The Baggy Greens are the most successful nation to win the World Cup, having won on five occasions and between 1999 and 2007, they won it three times consecutively. You can find Australia at a price of 7/2 and in terms of Cricket World Cup odds, that makes them third favourite outright to win the tournament (behind England and India). But can Australia retain their title? Here we will discuss their chances.
They’ve beaten the odds before
In 1987, Australia were rank-outsiders for the championship with co-hosts India, the favourites to retain their title, having won in 1983. In the group stages, Australia were triumphant against India in their first game, winning by a run with a score of 270/6. They weren’t as successful in their second game against the holders, losing by 56 runs – but both teams made it through from group A to the knock-out stage. The Aussies were then triumphant against other co-hosts Pakistan, who were all out for 249; while the underdogs were 267/6.
Other rank-outsiders England beat India in the other semi-final, which set-up an intriguing final. Australia won the toss and opted to bat first. From 50 overs, the Aussies managed to score 253 runs; England were bang-on track for the most-part, but failed to score in the final over, losing by seven runs and handing a first World Cup victory to the Baggy Greens.
Australia currently find themselves fifth in the ODI team rankings, which has seen them move up one place from sixth – their lowest position for some 30-odd years. Again, they’re not the favourites to win the World Cup this year, but there’s no reason why they can’t win. As we will go on to mention, they’re successful and have some decent bowlers and big players back.
They’ve been successful on every continent
On every continent that the Cricket World Cup has been played, the Aussies have been successful. Starting with the aforementioned 1987 World Cup in Asia, to their treble of successful wins (in Europe, Africa and the Americas), and more recently, their 2015 win in Australasia. During their time as five-time champions, the Aussies have won 49 matches and lost only four. In the history of the World Cup, they’ve won 61 out of 85, the highest win percentage among all teams playing in the competition.
Their big boys are back
David Warner and Steve Smith are back in the Australia squad, following their year-long bans as part of the ball-tampering scandal. The duo (along with Cameron Bancroft who was banned for nine months) were fined and banned for their roles during the third Test in South Africa, back in March 2018. Both players have featured for their club teams in the Indian Premier League already and their returns will no doubt boost Australia.
Talking about the duo, legend of the game, Shane Warne, who famously received a 12-month ban after testing positive for a banned substance said: “Smith and Warner are going to be hungry, determined and excited to be back playing rather than worrying about answering questions. I think they’ll just be excited to get out and play and they’ll be determined to show how much they’ve missed the game and how good they are, and that could rub off on the team and take the team with them. I don’t think there will be any issue with Smith and Warner coming back”.
While former captain and current assistant coach, Ricky Ponting added: “India and England are probably the two standout teams right now, but if you add Warner and Smith back into that line-up, then I think that team looks as strong as any. With the inclusion of two of the best one-day players in the world who have a lot of experience, all of a sudden the team starts looking a whole lot better”.