ICC World Cup 2019: Will Australia be able to fit Smith and Warner into the side?
Over the course of cricket history there have been just a few teams that have established global dominance. From the early 70s to the early 90s it was the West Indies team with tall power hitters and fearsome fast bowlers. And after that, it was the turn of the men from Down Under.
From the late 90s to the early 2010s Australia were a formidable side; it was a big challenge for the other teams to beat them.
But since 2018, the tables have turned upside down. The infamous sandpaper controversy shook Australian cricket, and the suspension of David Warner and Steve Smith brought them down to their knees.
The team was subsequently defeated by South Africa, England, Pakistan and India. Back-to-back series losses made them lose their confidence and landed them in great turmoil as they slipped down to 6th position in the ICC ODI Rankings.
Instead of being a top contender to defend their World Cup title, Australia stood in a position where it felt that they wouldn't even make it to the knockout stages.
But after losing the series against India in their own den, Australia have magically rediscovered their form and self-belief. After being two-down in a five-match series against India in India, Australia made a fierce comeback and won the series in characteristically dogged fashion.
The recently concluded series against Pakistan also helped revive their lost confidence; a 5-0 whitewash later, Australia were suddenly looking like contenders to win the World Cup again.
But the timing of their return to form has coincided with the suspensions of Warner and Smith getting over. Will they be able to fit Smith and Warner in the lineup now?
According to some experts, the Aussies need the experienced duo as they are world-class players and will add stability to the side. While the likes of Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja have been doing well in their absence, it can't be guaranteed that the newcomers will continue performing at such a high level.
Smith and Warner are proven match-winners, and with them in the side Australia might well be one of the favorites to lift the trophy. It is now up to the management to decide how to squeeze them in.