Will the return of Smith and Warner favor Australia’s chances in the World Cup 2019?
The Sandpaper gate took the Australian cricket team by storm. The ouster of the captain and vice-captain in one shot was always going to be difficult for the 5-time World Cup winning nation. Cricket Australia knew it was coming but were left with no choice in the aftermath of losing a few sponsors.
If the recent performances of the Australian team in limited overs format are to be screened, it presents a sorry picture. After getting completely whitewashed at the hands of England in ODIs and T20s, the team went on to lose to Pakistan in the Tri-nation T20 tournament. Just a couple of consolation wins came against the minnows, Zimbabwe. In short, the current Australian squad is looking down and out.
Steve Smith and David Warner, who were asked to step down from their leadership roles are slated to make a comeback to the national side in the month of March. That’s precisely three months before the World Cup. But at this juncture, everyone is curious to know once reinstated into the team, how well Smith and Warner are going to perform?
One thing is evident. Both Steve Smith and David Warner are going to be a part of the 2019 Australian World Cup squad. Both players have returned to playing cricket in the Global T20 Canada. Cricket Australia while sentencing these tainted players had made it very clear that Smith cannot take up any leadership role for a year, while David Warner, the chief conspirator of Sandpaper gate will never be considered for any kind of leadership roles in the future.
David Warner scored an unbeaten 155 against St. George in a grade cricket match on Saturday 22nd September. As the dashing left-hander completed the milestone, he celebrated his century by jumping in the air and pumping his fist. Kiwi batting legend Brendon McCullum made a mockery of the star with a couple of tweets.
It remains to be seen when these two players make a comeback, how people are going to plot their chances to take a dig at them. It will be important for Steve Smith and David Warner to keep their heads held high and focus on the game.
Finally, as once said by Brene Brown, "Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change." A couple of days ago when Sourav Ganguly was at the Symbiosis University to promote his book, 'A Century is not Enough' said, "the current Australian team is the weakest he has seen in the last 20-25 years."
Last week Steve Waugh came heavily in defense of Steve Smith stating Australian audience are forgiving and will move past once they see Steve Smith playing with the same amount of passion and enthusiasm. "You can't lose someone of his quality overnight and expect to replace it and he's still relatively young. The Australian public, they are forgiving. He made a mistake and he's paid a heavy price for it," Steve Waugh said in an interview.
The 1999 World Cup winning captain is afraid that once players like Steve Smith and David Warner are out of the game for 12 months, they might lose the aura of invincibility.
The current bunch of players in the Australian team are going through identity crisis. The last few generations produced many stalwarts who led them through one World Cup glory after another. The existing Tim Paine led squad had been accustomed to walking with players that basked in the glory of World Cup 2015.
The absence of cricketing heroes in the lineup is probably giving the players cold feet before every match. Until the World Cup 2019, Cricket Australia should ideally convince Shane Watson or Michael Clarke to fill the void in the current team.
Both players are still under 40 and can be considered for national duty even after their retirement. Shane Watson after playing a whirlwind of match-winning knocks for Chennai Super Kings in this year’s IPL is an ideal candidate for the role. Averaging 39.64, Watson scored 555 runs for the franchise which includes two centuries and two fifties.
Some way or the other needs to be explored by CA to keep the standards and morale high, till the time the World Cup approaches.