ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019

World Cup preview: Australia

The defending champions head into the tournament in stellar form aiming to go back-to-back

Sam Ferris

29 May 2019, 02:41 PM AEST

The squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa

Who they are missing: There was no room for in-form Victorian batsman Peter Handscomb, while Josh Hazlewood was not selected due to his lack of game time since suffering a back injury in January. Western Australia quick Jhye Richardson was initially named in the squad before a shoulder injury ruled him out, with Kane Richardson called up as his replacement.

Form line (most recent first): WWWWWWWWLL

World Cup Rewind: home comforts

The 2015 result: Winners

Best finish: Winners (1987, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2015)

The big question: Can Australia maintain their winning ways and defend their 2015 title? Nine months ago, Australia's ODI team hit a 34-year low after they were pummeled 5-0 in England and watched their ODI ranking freefall to No.6 in the world. But in the home series against South Africa and India that followed, Aaron Finch's side showed improvement to the point where they had a chance to win every game but couldn't always nail the key moments. That trend continued in the subcontinent, slipping 0-2 behind in the five-match series against India. With their backs against the wall, Finch's side rallied, posted big totals, fielded brilliantly and played some outstanding cricket to win the final three games, steal the series and shock the hosts. That winning momentum followed them to the UAE where they blanked a depleted Pakistan side 5-0 to enter the World Cup on an eight-game winning streak. With Steve Smith and David Warner back in the side to bolster the batting unit, perhaps Australia have timed their run perfectly for a World Cup defence. Nine months ago none of this looked possible.

Khawaja pushes case as Aussies cruise

Player to watch: Pat Cummins has been in rare form this year in ODI cricket. In 2019, Cummins has taken 17 wickets at 14.29 in six matches while striking every 19.5 deliveries. In the absence of Mitch Starc and Hazlewood, Cummins was given the new ball in India and excelled, consistently taking top-order wickets before returning to bowl at the end of the innings. In the same vein as South Africa's Kagiso Rabada, there really isn't a flaw in what Cummins can do with the ball, so look out for the right-armer this tournament.

Don't be surprised if: Smith and Warner explode this World Cup. We've already seen signs that the reinstated pair are back to their best; Warner carved up in this year's Indian Premier League to be the competition's leading run-scorer, while Smith struck a sublime century against England in a warm-up match in Southampton last week. There is no doubt the duo will be on the receiving end of negative crowd behaviour, but both batsmen are resilient and will let their broad bats to do the talking. It's going to be enthralling viewing as Smith and Warner return to international cricket, and with a point to prove, they could well lead Australia to a sixth World Cup crown.

Smith's ton guides Aussies to warm-up win

World Cup numbers

Team record: Matches: 84 | Won: 62 | Lost: 20 | Tied: 1 | NR: 1

Highest total: 6-417 v Afghanistan, Perth, 2015

Lowest total: 129 v India, Chelmsford, 1983

Most runs: Australia's World Cup run-machine Ricky Ponting tops this list with 1743 runs at 45.86. His five centuries are also the most for Australia, and not surprisingly he's also hit the most boundaries with 176 (145 fours, 31 sixes).

Most wickets: Not only is Glenn McGrath Australia's most prolific wicket-taker at World Cups with 71 wickets in 39 matches, he has more World Cup wickets than anybody. McGrath's best haul of 7-15 came against Namibia in 2003 and he was named the 2007 World Cup player of the tournament for his 26 wickets.

Most dismissals: It's no surprise that three-time champion Adam Gilchrist holds this record with 52 dismissals (45 caught, seven stumped) in 31 matches.

Ponting's World Cup Memories: The '99 turnaround

The fixtures:

June 1 v Afghanistan, Bristol, 10.30pm AEST

June 6 v West Indies, Nottingham, 7.30pm AEST

June 9 v India, London (The Oval), 7.30pm AEST

June 12 v Pakistan, Taunton, 7.30pm AEST

June 15 v Sri Lanka, London (The Oval), 7.30pm AEST

June 20 v Bangladesh, Nottingham, 7.30pm AEST

June 25 v England, London (Lord’s), 7.30pm AEST

June 29 v New Zealand, London (Lord's), 10.30pm AEST

July 6 v South Africa, Manchester, 10.30pm AEST