A good mix of players

Having helped give Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer the ideal farewell from the Test arena with a 5-0 Ashes series whitewash, Ponting is also keen to send McGrath into international retirement with one more accolade, writes Andrew Wu.

Depth, flexibility and team balance will play a crucial role in Australia's bid for an unprecedented hat-trick of World Cups, according to captain Ricky Ponting. The long-winded nature of the tournament, which will feature three group matches followed by six in the Super Eight stage before the semifinals, means Australia's team management will have to closely monitor the workload of its players in the Caribbean.

That means all 15 men in the squad are likely to taste action at some point during an event that will stretch to more than 50 days for the teams that make the final.

Australia, which had a hectic schedule in the last few months — following the Ashes, the team participated in the Commonwealth Bank Series in Australia and then the three-match Chappell-Hadlee Series against New Zealand — has a further two warm-up matches in the West Indies against Zimbabwe and England. So the need to rotate its players becomes imperative.

"There's no doubt that you're going to have to look at giving some of the guys a break or a game off here and there just to make sure that they are as good as they can be mentally and physically for the bigger games that you play along the way," Ponting said.

"But that all sorts itself out along the way. You can't premeditate, if you like, too much on that. That's just the way everything works out. We'll manage it along the way."

To be able to do that, Australia needs players who can perform a wide range of roles and, according to Ponting, be adept in at least two of the game's three departments. Every member of Australia's squad satisfies this requirement.

Despite defeats against England in the Commonwealth Bank Series and New Zealand in the Chappell-Hadlee Series, Australia is the overwhelming favourite to triumph in the Caribbean.

In the ICC Champions Trophy in India in 2006, Australia showed it meant business by emerging triumphant with a squad, which Ponting said, was balanced and had depth. "Through the Champions Trophy, I really liked the look of our team there," he said. "The balance and everything we had through that group of games was excellent.

"Things can happen and happen pretty quickly in this game, as we know. One or two injuries can throw out the whole balance of the side. Depth and flexibility is exactly what you're after in any one-day cricket team.

"Through the last World Cup programme, we had a really good mix of youth and experience and, with this current group of players we've got together here now, it's pretty much the same.

"We've got some good younger players coming on and coming through. With Gilly (Adam Gilchrist), (Matthew) Hayden, myself and (Glenn) McGrath, we've got some good experienced players as well."

Having helped give Shane Warne, McGrath and Justin Langer the ideal farewell from the Test arena with a 5-0 Ashes series whitewash, Ponting is also keen to send McGrath into international retirement with one more accolade.

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