Where teams stand before the 2019 World Cup: Australia and South Africa
With only five months left for the 2019 World Cup, all participating teams have started identifying their respective potential squads for the tournament and are working to fill in any gaps they might have.
While some teams are working to identify their opening combination, other sides are honing in on their key bowlers. As all sides have limited game time to finalize their squads, let us now examine how each team stands and what areas they need to sharpen their focus for next year's World Cup.
The reigning world champions are currently ranked sixth in the ODI rankings and have had a terrible year, winning 2 out of 13 matches and losing their best batsmen in Steve Smith and David Warner to suspension.
With both coming back in time for the World Cup, Aaron Finch and Warner are designated openers. Should Warner not play, Travis Head is likely to open the innings with Finch.
Australia has options for the middle order, in Shaun Marsh, Chris Lynn, Steve Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Travis Head, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, and Alex Carey. Shaun Marsh scored 2 centuries in 5 matches in England earlier this year, keeping him in contention given his experience in English conditions.
The biggest area of concern would be to identify which allrounders play, with Marcus Stoinis and Travis Head seemingly assured of places in the eleven. Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh are lacking for consistency at present.
At present, Australia's strength is their bowling attack, with Mitchell Starc (2015 Player of the Tournament), Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Ashton Agar, Adam Zampa, and Nathan Lyon all in contention. The choice of spinner from Agar, Zampa, and Lyon is crucial. While Agar provides batting depth, Zampa and Lyon are wicket-taking options.
Losing AB de Villiers to retirement has forced South Africa to change their planning for the tournament.
With Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, and Faf du Plessis forming the batting core, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, and David Miller are pushing for middle order spots. Farhaan Behardien, Aiden Markram, and Khaya Zondo are also in contention for the middle order.
The allrounder position is contested between Chris Morris, Dwaine Pretorius, Wiaan Mulder, and Andile Phehlukwayo. South Africa would look to play two of them at any given time, with Phehlukwayo seemingly guaranteed a playing spot.
South Africa's bowling attack, like Australia's, is its biggest strength at present, with Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Dale Steyn, Tabraiz Shamsi, and Keshav Maharaj all in contention. Rabada, Ngidi, Steyn, and Tahir will go to the tournament, with Shamsi and Maharaj competing for the second spinner position.
This is the second article in a series examining how each team stands before the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
Part 1: England and New Zealand: https://www.sportskeeda.com/cricket/where-teams-stand-before-the-2019-world-cup-england-and-new-zealand