One Day International cricket is awesome. Yes, you read that correctly. Awesome. It’s now so uncool it’s become cool again. We expect to see the stands at the Champions Trophy packed to the rafters with hipsters sporting red pants, unkempt beards, and woolen jumpers, all supporting the uncoolest (and therefore coolest) team in the land. The Australian ODI team. Oh yeah.
Just look at their Champions Trophy squad, it’s full of some of the most ordinary talent going. Michael Clarke (rubbish at limited overs cricket), George Bailey, Clint McKay, Xavier Doherty, even the man with the most middle names going, Shane ‘Shirley’ ‘Captain Dickhead’ ‘Watto’ Watson. It’s enough to make the most counter-cultural trendsetter start salivating like a Nintendo fanboy on the eve of E3.
No team encapsulates the state of contemporary ODI cricket like the Australian team. When they take to the field, resplendent in their…er…we don’t actually remember what the current Australian uniform looks like. Well, whatever, when they just take to the field, everyone stops what they are doing, turns, and points their finger at someone, possibly Nathan Coulter-Nile, and shouts, “Who the fuck is that?”. That is modern ODI cricket in a nutshell.
Australia are currently ranked the third best ODI outfit in the world, to which all we can say is “Wow”, and, “How shit must all the other teams be?” Their squad does not give the appearance of one able to compete with the best in the field (we can’t actually remember who is supposed to be good at ODI cricket these days, are Zimbabwe still okay? Does Heath Streak still play for them?). Admittedly some of their players are decent. Well, Mitch Starc is better than so-so with a white ball in hand (*snigger*), in fact we would go as far as claim he is the second best white ball bowler in the world, behind Xavier Doherty. Ah, we mean Dale Steyn. Possibly.
But beyond him things drop off rapidly. McKay has been in decent form of late, although he still is not one to put the fear of God (or Allah, or whatever) into opposition batsmen. The batting order is a mess, with Matt Wade destined to bat anywhere from 1 to 7 in this tournament. The same goes for the useless luggage that is Glenn Maxwell. Phil Hughes would look awkward even as a twelfth man, and David Warner’s heroics on his last tour of England (100 runs even in 4 innings, for an average of 25), does not suggest he will be one to take games away from the opposition. In fact Australia’s best ODI batsmen right now is probably George Bailey. Yeah, that’s right. George Bloody Bailey. Wow.
Of course looming beyond all of this lies a little thing called the Olympics. Oh wait, that was last year. Sorry, we mean the Ashes. Yeah, that thing. The Australians, therefore, might be somewhat inclined to put in more effort than normal in an attempt to ruffle some feathers, as it were, before the big kick off at Trent Bridge. Certainly players like Adam Voges will be looking to impress in order to force themselves into Test reckoning, while an awful competition for Warner could very well see him dropped from the Test XI altogether (please, please, please).
Still, they could very well win the whole thing. Why not? It’s ODI cricket. We suspect even New Zealand could take the trophy home. The fact that this, on paper at least, is the worst Australian ODI squad we can remember (even worse than the one they took to England last year, and that had Peter Forrest in it), doesn’t really mean a lot when you look at the quality of all the other ODI teams going round these days. Admittedly making it out of their group would be an achievement in itself (both England and Sri Lanka ought to demolish them), but you never know. And Michael Clarke would just look so damn hot lifting the trophy at the end of it all, we kinda want it to happen for that reason alone.