With only 13 players at his disposal for the match against England at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Saturday, Australia captain Pat Cummins voiced his opinion in favour of a larger squad for the ICC World Cup.
“It is a two-month tournament. You would not want to be in a position like New Zealand. They have had some injuries, and luckily, they have been able to hold someone like Kane (Williamson) in the squad, but if suddenly you had to rule him out, I think that would not be good for a World Cup. I always think as many players as you need, you should be able to pick from,” Cummins said on the eve of the match.
All-rounders Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh have been ruled out of the match on Saturday due to different reasons. While Maxwell suffered a concussion following a fall from a golf cart, Marsh flew back home due to personal reasons. New Zealand and Sri Lanka are among the other teams which have been forced to change their 15-member units following injuries.
Cummins, however, assured that his squad will be back to full strength.
“Maxwell, hopefully, [will be back] for the clash against Afghanistan. He trained well yesterday and is still taking it day by day. Mitch [Marsh], we will wait and see - he will return. I do not think it will be a super long trip back home to Perth but the main thing is we’ll give him as much time and space as he needs,” Cummins said.
In its six games in the tournament, Australia has fielded 14 players with injuries or selection decisions, forcing changes to the starting lineup in three games. Travis Head was available for selection only from the game against the Netherlands - the side’s fifth of the competition.
Though Cummins backed his players to fill in any vacancies that arose, he hoped that Maxwell and Marsh’s absence would be the final ‘hiccup’ for his team.
“We have played a lot of ODIs over the last couple of months so it feels like everyone is coming in with lots of game time. We have got plenty of all-rounders so I always feel like there are plenty of options we can go to.
“The good thing is we are still three games away from the semifinals. We need to make the semifinals, but hopefully, this is kind of the last little hiccup where we have got a smaller squad to pick from,” Cummins said.
With eight points in its bag, Australia needs to win at least two games to advance to the knockout stage, and doing it against England will be special for Cummins.
“It [a win] helps our chances to get into the semis so that is the overarching feeling of winning this one. It has been an old rivalry so, yeah, it is probably just that little bit sweeter than beating other teams. And the same with the history of how well they have done in white-ball cricket, yeah, it would be a great win,” Cummins said.
Cummins added that his side has moved on from the ‘spirit of cricket’ controversy surrounding Jonny Bairstow’s run out during the Ashes in July 2023. The England batter was run out by Alex Carey after he walked out of the crease thinking the delivery was dead.
“That was a couple of months ago. It’s done. It’s a new game, a new tournament. But I always think a little bit of healthy rivalry is good, especially [with] our playing group, we’re quite a chilled, calm group. So, sometimes when we get a little bit more fired up, I don’t think it is too bad a thing,” Cummins said.
On England’s string of poor performances, Cummins said, “A little bit surprised. They have some class players who have performed well in these kinds of tournaments over the last few years. [But] They are going to be dangerous tomorrow. You have got to be careful of any team with that kind of calibre of players.”
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