Gary Kirsten feels that despite all their recent problems, Australia will definitely be one of the major contenders for the 2019 World Cup.
Kirsten knows a thing or two about playing, and doing well, at World Cups.
In his very first World Cup appearance, he scored 188* against the United Arab Emirates in 1996, still the third best individual score in the tournament. Overall, he scored 806 runs from 21 games at an average of 47.41. Then, as a coach, he was the man in charge as India won the 2011 edition at home.
Speaking about Australia, beset by issues at the moment, Kirsten said there was no reason to believe that Australia won’t be ready in time for the 2019 World Cup.
“You can never count Australia out of any big tournament,” Kirsten, who coaches Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League, told Reuters. “They are the most consistent team across big tournaments and I am sure they will be ready to compete at the next World Cup.”
Questions have been raised about Australia’s quality following the suspensions handed out to Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft in the wake of the ball-tampering controversy in South Africa earlier this year.
Bancroft has never played ODI cricket, but Smith and Warner have been integral members of the squad, the captain and vice-captain respectively, and played their parts in Australia winning the 2015 title.
The bans on Smith and Warner will end well before the 2019 World Cup, but whether they are selected for the tournament or not remains to be seen.
Moving on, Kirsten pointed to England, who recently became the No.1-ranked ODI team, as one of the favourites for the tournament, to be played in England and Wales.
“All the teams have got closer and it really is open for any team to win the big tournaments — England are playing an aggressive and exciting brand of cricket and it has certainly put them in a great position to contend in all tournaments,” said Kirsten.
He also didn’t rule out the possibility of South Africa finally getting things right at the tournament — “South Africa has built a team where you have a number of match-winners. AB (de Villiers) is one of them and he will be doing all he can to make sure he contributes as he always does,” he said.