Feb 22, 2007

Handicapping Teams @ the Cricket WC - AUSTRALIA

Everyone's favorite just a few weeks ago, suddenly looks a little vulnerable. The team that has never NOT been #1 in the ICC 1-day rankings, finally lost their top spot, just weeks before the World Cup.

The losses to England (wow, who would have thunk it) and then the white-wash at the hands of New Zealand have shown up the weaknesses in the Australian armor. True, there were a few players who were rested due to niggles, but if you look at this some more, you see that there really is a glaring problem with Australia. The players who were missing were batters - Ponting, Gilchrist, being the top names. The problems Australia is facing is with their bowling. They have just proved incapable of holding any batting lineup. This used to be a strength, but does not appear so any more.

And now, NO BRETT LEE. This is obviously a big blow for Australia (though, Lee's replacement, Stuart Clark, should have been in the team in the 1st place). On a side note, I think this is a big blow to the World Cup as well. Lee is a great fast bowler and I for one will miss seeing him at the World Cup.

McGrath is old and I am not sure there is anyone who is going to step up to replace his huge shoes. The old warhorse might just have 1 last effort in him - and Australia fans are going to be praying for this. The Aussie spin bowling looks pedestrian, at best. Even if one does not compare the present lot with Shane Warne.

And Ponting, who says he is going to be 100% fit, has a back issue. Anyone who has had issues with the back knows that this is not something to be trifled with.

I think they are vulnerable and New Zealand and England sure will fancy themselves against the Aussies. South Africa, India and West Indies probably also feel that their batters can take on the Aussie attack and put it to the sword.

So, overall, I feel that the Aussies are no longer the clear favorite for this championship. In fact I think that we are going to have a new World Champion this year!!

[More post coming on the other top teams at the World Cup]

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