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  • Writer's pictureJosh Kempton

Aussie legend hoping for World Cup revival

A five-wicket win over Sri Lanka on Monday night got the Australians on the board at the World Cup after they were smashed in their first two games, losing to India by six wickets in their tournament opener before suffering a comprehensive 134-run loss at the hands of South Africa.

Cricket legend Mike Hussey is holding out hope for Australia’s campaign despite a slow start.

Hussey told Sports Breakfast the team had looked disjointed in the lead-in to the tournament.

“I think the thing that concerned me was how big the losses were, we’ve had a relatively tough start playing India and South Africa so I understand if we maybe drop one or two games early in the tournament, but I think because the losses were so big, that was quite concerning,” Hussey said.

“I think that’s where you find out a lot about the character of the players, when things aren’t going right and you’re on the back of a couple of hidings, who stands up and who wilts away.

“I know there was a lot of talk about Pat Cummins’ place in the team and I totally disagreed with that. I think if he had’ve stepped back out of the team, that would’ve sent a terrible message … I think it’s really important that the captain takes hold of the team and leads from the front was really strong and hopefully he gains a bit of confidence from that.

“I’m still quite pragmatic because it is a long tournament, it’s not how you start the tournament, it’s how you finish. You do need to win games along the way to get yourselves into a position to make that top four, but ideally, you want to start to peak and play your best cricket towards the back end of a World Cup.”

After Ashton Agar was ruled out on the eve of the tournament due to a calf injury, the selection panel chose not to replace him with another spinner, instead opting for an extra batter in Marnus Labuschagne.

Hussey said he was “very surprised” by the decision not to parachute another slow bowler into the squad.

“That was my one big concern. Having Adam Zampa as the only specialist spinner I think’s a big gamble in a place like India,” he said.

“You come up against India in a big game, you know they’re going to produce a turning pitch. They played three spinners against us.

“To be fair, I think Glenn Maxwell’s actually bowled really well so far in the tournament, Zampa bounced back to a bit of form in the last game, which was good to see.

“I think in India and in World Cups, you need front-line performers. You can’t mix and match with part-timers, I don’t think they’re going to get the job done on a consistent basis.”

Australia’s next challenge comes in the form of Pakistan, who have made a 2-1 start to the tournament, in Bangalore tomorrow, with Hussey saying the game would have ramifications for the whole tournament.

“For Pakistan, if they can beat Australia, they’ll give themselves enormous confidence and get themselves well-entrenched in that top four,” he said.

“From an Australian perspective, if they win this game against Pakistan, then they’re right up in the mix again as well. It’s been all doom and gloom, suddenly there’s a couple of other results, England losing a couple and the Netherlands pinching a game off South Africa, it means Australia are right there in the mix again.

“I honestly do not know what’s going to happen and it’s because of Pakistan. On their day, they are miraculous, they can beat anyone, but the problem is you’re not sure if they’re going to do it.”

The clash between Australia and Pakistan gets underway at 4:30pm WA time.

IMAGE: Telegraph India


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