As the snow on the higher peaks melted under the sun in perfect weather for cricket, Australia’s nets in Dharamsala suggested they were ever closer to playing a full-strength XI for the first time in this ODI World Cup.
Travid Head, who narrowly missed out on the last game recovering from a broken left hand, batted in the nets for about 20 minutes without discernible discomfort, and had a bowl too. Marcus Stoinis, who missed the last match with a sore calf, had a long bowling stint and a decent hit towards the end of their session.
However, Australia captain Pat Cummins finished his press conference before the training so there is no confirmation either of them will be back for the match against New Zealand. Yet he didn’t shy away from what has become a bit of a thorny topic since the last match: where does Head bat when he comes back, and consequently where does Mitchell Marsh bat?
The expectation all the while was for Head to slot right back into his opening role, for Marsh to bat at No. 3, and for
Steven Smith to move a slot down. Smith, though, said after the last match that he was “a bit shocked” when told he would have to move down to No. 4.
“It’s a different sort of mindset I think, when you come in at 3 to 4,” Smith had said. “So yeah, I got told if Trav was playing that I was going to be batting 4. I’ll do whatever the team wants. I’ve got a pretty good record at three, so I was a bit shocked in a way, but I’ll do what I need to for the team.
Cummins said Smith didn’t take much convincing to agree to the switch. “I think he said himself, do whatever is best for the team,” Cummins said. “And Trav’s been amazing [at the top of the order] over the last 12 months. Mitch Marsh at the top has been amazing. Davey Warner’s obviously a superstar up there.
“We think that’s the best way to set up the team and we’re really excited with how the batting line-up looks like. No, it’s been fine. We all do some roles that maybe is not your preference but it’s what’s best for the team so it’s fine.”
They might only now be getting close to getting their best personnel together, but Cummins believes Australia have nailed the way they want to play after a slow start.
“Our group’s big on talking about the style that we want to play,” Cummins said. “I think in the first two games not only did we not win, but I think we didn’t really nail the style that we wanted to play. In the last few games you’ve seen us be a bit more aggressive: batting and bowling. Bowling, everyone’s been really open-minded, tried different things; trying bouncers, different fields, one-over spells and it’s just been a real buy-in from the whole team, and yeah, it’s been fantastic last few games. That’s a standard we want to keep going with for the rest of the tournament.”
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