Aus vs Zim, 2022 – Australia ODI Talking Points

There are six ODIs over the next two weeks, starting with the three against Zimbabwe in Townsville, followed by three against New Zealand in Cairns, for Australia to further refine their plans in the format.

Luck for Abbott

For a cricketer of Sean Abbott’s quality, 13 international appearances since his debut in 2014 is a meager reward. Injuries haven’t always been kind to him – his recent tour of Sri Lanka ended before it started due to a broken finger – and as a pace bowler (and pace bowling allrounder ), he is in a skill set where Australia is well served. But with Pat Cummins rested from those two series and six games in quick succession, it would be a surprise if there wasn’t an opportunity for him at some point. He was in the squad for all three games against Pakistan earlier this year where he had better returns with the bat than the ball in difficult conditions for pace bowlers. He enters this series following a useful spell for Manchester Originals at the Hundred which included a 4-for-8 comeback where he became the first bowler to complete two first five-ball sets in men’s competition.

How many all-rounders?

Abbott is also part of a wider debate over the balance of Australia’s one-day squad. Ahead of next year’s World Cup, there is a move to lengthen the bat at the expense of another specialist bowler. In the six games Cameron Green has bowled this year, he has batted at numbers 7 and 8, becoming one of three fast bowlers alongside the selected pair of specialists. He took the new ball in the series against Pakistan although it was used sparingly against Sri Lanka given the conditions. Australia are trying to determine if the combined overs of Green, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stoinis and Marnus Labuschagne give them enough bowling depth alongside two quick specialists plus Adam Zampa. Having Green’s batting ability as low as No. 8 should, in theory, allow them to go harder earlier in an inning and push for totals well over 300.

Mitchell Marsh at No. 3

Marsh has been a resounding success since moving to No.3 in Australia’s T20I team and in his last ODIs – three games against the West Indies last year and three against Sri Lanka after recovering from lateral tension – it played the same role. In the 50 plus format, he has yet to enjoy the same returns, going a best 29 in six sets against West Indies and Sri Lanka, but is seen as a player who can exploit the power play. However, the ripple effect moves Steven Smith and Labuschagne one place lower in the order. Smith makes no secret that he likes to start an innings as early as possible – he made half a century at No. 3 against Sri Lanka when Marsh was ruled out – and in 2020 against India (he only played than two ODIs since), he’s scored back-hundreds of 62-ball backs from the No. 3. Overall, his ODI average in the position is 53.85 – putting him comfortably in the top 10 – he drops to 35.61 at No. 4.

double spin

With one eye on a World Cup to be held in India, there’s also the question of whether Australia think they need to find a way to play another specialist XI spinner. In this current squad, that option is Ashton Agar – who was left out of the Sri Lankan series with a side strain that gave Matt Kuhnemann an opportunity – but his inclusion would likely come at the expense of a batting option. Agar has been limited to 16 ODIs since his debut in 2015, managing 16 wickets at 46.43. Maxwell is seen as close to a frontline spin option in white-ball cricket and given that he spins it the opposite way to Zampa, that might be the most likely path.

The shape of the captain

It’s a topic that never seems too far off and while Aaron Finch answers questions about it with respect, he insists he doesn’t care what is written or said. “What other people think of me personally or how I play, it actually doesn’t matter to me,” he said. But, still, the form of an Australian captain is interesting. In four of his last seven ODI rounds he’s fallen for a duck (two of the other rounds were 44 and 62) and there’s probably enough evidence to suggest he’s past his prime. However, it would take a big change now if he weren’t to captain India next year, a tournament that promises to be his international swan song. Still, with Travis Head – who is missing both of those series on paternity leave – arguing for a permanent spot, it might be time for Finch to put some big scores on the board.

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