Irish look to take shine off Aussie World Cup win
Belfast: Australia play their first one-day international as world champions in Belfast tomorrow with a new captain and three uncapped players in the 14-man squad which meets Ireland in a one-off game at Stormont.
Although their World Cup victory was just five months ago, it will be Steve Smith leading Australia, not Michael Clarke and Matthew Wade keeping wicket instead of Brad Haddin who has retired from one-day cricket.
The newcomers are Joe Burns, who is in line to replace Aaron Finch at the top of the order, while the World Cup opener recovers from a fractured foot, all-rounder Marcus Stoinis who come in for the suspended James Faulkner, and the sole specialist spinner in the squad is Ashton Agar, returning to an Australia side for the first time since the 2013 Ashes tour.
Five of the World Cup winning team – and eight of the squad – are still around despite Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood being sent home to prepare for the domestic season, leaving the world No 1 ODI bowler Mitchell Starc to lead the attack.
Three years ago, on their last visit to Belfast, rain washed out the game after just 10.4 overs but not before Pat Cummins was clocked at 94mph, and with Nathan Coulter-Nile and James Pattinson both returning to the squad for the first time this year, Cummins (22), who took five wickets in his two World Cup games, will likely share the new ball with Starc.
Shane Watson may have lost his Test place but he is still a key member of the one-day squad, along with Glenn Maxwell who is the only Australia batsman in the world’s ODI top 10, just ahead of former captain George Bailey with Smith down in 13th place.
The bowling is even starker with Maxwell, at No 70, rated the second best Australia bowler in this squad so they have much to prove.