World Cup winner Brendon Julian believes an oversaturated cricket schedule and a potential Ashes hangover are no excuse for Australia’s horror start to the ODI World Cup.
Australia find themselves sitting dead last on the table after demoralising losses to India and South Africa in their first two games.
The Aussies head into Monday night’s match against Sri Lanka desperate to win if they are to have any hope of clawing their way back into contention.
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Australia won the 1999 Cricket World Cup after struggling early in the tournament and Julian has faith the current team can do the same if key players can stand up and seize key moments.
“It smells a bit of the ‘99 World Cup when we lost two of the first three games,” Fox Cricket expert commentator Julian told news.com.au.
“You need a few things to go your way. We scrounged into the semi-finals and went on and won.
“I think this team can do it. What happened in ‘99, Steve Waugh and Shane Warne stood up.
“It’s going to take a couple of senior players to step up. I think Mitch Starc and Josh Hazlewood can do that.
“It might have to be a great Steve Smith innings or a Marnus (Labuschagne) innings or someone in the middle order, maybe Glenn Maxwell.”
Julian said the Aussies have lost their “rhythm” and need to play through the ebbs and flows of the 50-over format.
“It’s not all dead and buried but Australia don’t look in good rhythm,” he said.
“They don’t seem to be sensing the moments or working out the situations of the game.
“Even against India, the way they batted didn’t sum up the situation when you only needed 240-250 on that wicket.
“To me, they’re just not summing it up. The middle order is not firing.
“At the end of the day, I just don’t think they’re sensing the moments in games to win them.
“I reckon they’re lacking a bit of direction and sense and when you’re under a bit of pressure you lose a bit of rhythm and I’ve noticed that in the fielding. Our fielding has not been sharp at all.”
Much like the 2021 T20 World Cup, Australia’s star-studded team look completely out of sorts and are at risk of missing the semi-finals if they don’t win nearly all of their remaining games.
Australia have had one of the most busy cricket schedules every this year, with a Test series against India, the World Test Championship Final, the Ashes in England and several white-ball series squeezed in.
Julian said the jam-packed international fixture is no excuse for the Aussies’ uninspiring start to the ODI World Cup.
“They’ve had a very intense Ashes campaign squeezed in,” he said.
“They’ve had a One-Day tournament in South Africa, then they’ve played some warm up games before the World Cup. You know they play five T20s after this World Cup in India before they come home?
“At the end of the day, I don’t want to talk about fatigue with players because that’s the business and that’s what they’ve got to do.
“But also, Cricket Australia are part of the scheduling as well and players get eight weeks off a year — they choose to go play IPL, then so be it. I don’t want to see players resting for Australia when they play IPL cricket as well.
“I’m all for them playing as much as they want. But you can’t go into this World Cup and blame fatigue, I think they just lack a bit of sense of how to win games and I think that’s bled through to their fielding, bowling and batting.”
England entered the World Cup as one of the teams to beat but have lost two of their first three games, including a shock loss to Afghanistan.
“I don’t know if it’s a backlash from the Ashes series and a heavy workload for England and Australia, I’m not sure,” Julian said.
So can Australia get back on track an win the World Cup?
“They’re not dead and buried yet but they need a bit of luck and bit of belief too,” Julian said.
“They’ve got to play in a smart way. They’ve got to sense when to put the foot down with the bat, when to ease off and grind it out to put a decent score on the board.
“I don’t know if that’s a lack of direction or they’re not playing to their plans, but they are not sensing the moment out in the middle.
“They need to sum out the situation and grind it out, not go out there and bat like millionaires and try get 350.
“If you’re chasing, you need to take the game as deep as possible and someone needs to grab it
“Of course we should be beating Sri Lanka.”
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