Australia face question of depth after Champions Trophy failure

Source: Sky Sports Cricket via Twitter

Australia’s lack of depth was exposed by England in the ICC Champions Trophy, with the Three Lions eliminating Steve Smith’s men from the competition.

The Aussies were dealt a bad hand by the weather in their opening two matches, which prevented them from securing a result either positive or negative. Smith’s men perhaps benefited from the rain against New Zealand after being reduced to 52-3 in their chase of 292, but were then thwarted just four overs shy of a win days later in their battle to beat Bangladesh.

As a result, the Baggy Greens needed to beat England at Edgbaston and looked to be building a decent innings through Smith and Aaron Finch, but Mark Wood and Adil Rashid put the clamps on the Aussies, limiting them to just 277 from their 50 overs. Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc put the Three Lions on the back foot in their reply, but Ben Stokes and Eoin Morgan held firm by building a partnership of 159, with the all-rounder guiding his side over the line with a fine unbeaten century via the Duckworth/Lewis method.

The Aussies will have time to reflect on their performance at the competition, with perhaps a renewed focus on their defence of their World Cup crown in 2019, when they will return to England for a 50-over tournament. The Baggy Greens are backed in the early cricket betting odds at 3/1 to retain their title, but plenty of work is ahead of them to cultivate sufficient depth for the challenge ahead. Smith’s men relied too much on their star power at the Champions Trophy, which appeared to weigh on the skipper himself as he allowed his frustration to boil over at times.

David Warner, Starc, Hazlewood and Smith all displayed their talent in the competition at one time, but support in and around the foursome was not overly forthcoming.

Source: CricketAus via Twitter

Australia’s middle order proved to be suspect against England as Moises Henriques, Glen Maxwell and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade struggled. Henriques and Maxwell were meant to provide balance in the side due to their ability to bowl a few overs at least, but both came unstuck in their batting duties – with Henriques drawing the particular ire of his captain in his dismissal against England.

Unfortunately for Australia, there are not a lot of options around to replace them. The selectors opted against handing Chris Lynn an opportunity, despite being selected in the squad. Peter Handscomb has enjoyed an excellent start to his Test career and should also be considered for a return after playing only five matches for the Baggy Greens in the 50-over format.

The bowling attack beyond Starc and Hazlewood was very ordinary as England were able to rebuild after their early wobble with relative ease.

Pat Cummins has struggled since suffering from numerous injuries that have removed yards of space from his deliveries, while Adam Zampa failed to provide a spark with his leg spin. There are no quality players queuing up to take their spots away in the team as James Pattinson and John Hastings have been inconsistent, while Nathan Coulter-Nile and Nathan Lyon were not included in the squad.

Smith and the selectors face big decisions over the future of the side, while the contract dispute between the players and Cricket Australia will only serve as a further distraction. Although Smith has been outstanding with the bat, the 27-year-old does face a question of leadership whether he can get the best of his Australian side in all formats of the game.

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By: The Sports Mirror