Australia’s three-match warm-up series against New Zealand was important for two individuals – Steve Smith and David Warner. The duo was making a comeback after one year following the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town against South Africa. Warner produced a brilliant effort in the 2019 Indian Premier League for Sunrisers Hyderabad, scoring 692 runs at an average of 69.2 in 10 games. Smith, on the other hand, had moderate success in the IPL for Rajasthan Royals both as captain and batsman. However, in the three matches against New Zealand at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane, Smith had a magnificent time by scoring two consecutive fifties and helping Australia win the series 2-1.
Speaking to ESPNCricinfo after the end of the match, Australia ODI skipper Aaron Finch revealed that the old form shown by Smith was back and Australia will benefit immensely from this. “His timing and class were back again. His drives down the ground on a really difficult wicket to time off the front foot was so impressive. How he went through the gears was very impressive. They are two of the best players in the world which is valuable to have at your disposal. The boys have been brilliant, all the work off the field with the team has been great. It's an interesting time, no doubt when they are coming back in but still a great opportunity for everyone to learn off them as well. They have so much experience and what they bring to the group is really valuable,” Finch said.
Australia became the first team to win five World Cups in five different countries, having won the 1999 World Cup in England. In the 2015 World Cup which they won and in the current squad of 2019, there are six members who still form the core. Apart from Smith and Warner, there is Aaron Finch, Mitchell Starc, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins who were part of the winning squad in 2015. Finch believes retaining the majority of the core will be key for their success.
“I think it's a big advantage, just to know what it takes to win a World Cup and what it takes to manage your way through a campaign which can be difficult. You have to be at your best at the business end but you can't afford to let anything slip at the start. Six guys, who have been there (2015) and done that will give a lot of experience to the others of what to expect, what to feel walking out there because it is different,” Finch said.
Australia will play two warm-up games against England and Sri Lanka before they open their ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 campaign against Afghanistan in Bristol on June 1.