World Cup 2019: Australia well set for title defence, says Merv Hughes

Australia might have lost to its ODI rivals recently, but Merv Hughes is confident the Cricket World Cup holder is well placed.

Australia defeated co-host New Zealand in the 2015 final, yet it is England, the top-ranked team and 2019 hosts, who has been talked up as the clear candidate this year.   -  Getty Images

Merv Hughes suggested Australia has been dismissed too easily and is in good shape to retain its Cricket World Cup title.

Australia defeated co-host New Zealand in the 2015 final, yet it is England, the top-ranked team and 2019 hosts, who has been talked up as the clear candidate this year.

However, former Australia star Hughes claims the defending champion, boosted by the returns of Steve Smith and David Warner, is in "a pretty good position".

"It's been interesting since the last World Cup," Hughes told Omnisport. "I think people expect you to win all of the games, but at different times you have different priorities.

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"We went to South Africa with an undermanned squad because the Ashes was looming. Then we went to England last year and got beaten convincingly, but we had come off a three-month break and England had been playing.

"We had probably six, seven, maybe eight men who would normally play one-day cricket not on that tour. It was a chance to look at some up-and-coming players, some took their chance and some didn't.

 

"It's interesting a lot of Australian people were worried and probably a lot of English people were pretty happy with the way the Australia one-day side had been going.

"But ultimately, who is the current World Cup holder? That is Australia.

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"We have played England and South Africa with under-strength teams, but the World Cup is different. The Australians are in a pretty good position, I think."

Yet Hughes still considers England the most obvious rival to Australia's crown.

"England in home conditions are always going to be a threat," he said. "South Africa can be up there and India have got a good team together.

"West Indies, no one ever rates them and they are hit and miss. When they hit, they hit well."