• Warne: Australia have found belief again

    Former leg-spinner Shane Warne has predictably backed Australia to win the 2019 World Cup.

    Australia are among the favourites to clinch the title after 14 July’s final at Lord’s in London – and they beat the No 1-ranked England in a key warm-up fixture at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton last week.

    Former captain Steven Smith, who recently returned to international cricket after a lengthy ban for involvement in last year’s ball-tampering scandal during the Test tour of South Africa, struck a superb century in the victory over England. Fellow batsman David Warner, who served the same suspension, has also returned.

    ‘Smith is a huge player. If you look back at the time in March last year and you say who were the top five players in the world, you would say Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Smith, Warner and Kane Williamson. So Australia had two of the top five players, and to lose them was a big loss,’ Warne told IANS.

    The Australians relished a five-nil ODI series whitewash over 2017 Champions Trophy winners Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year.

    ‘I think everybody wrote Australia off because they were pretty ordinary and played some poor cricket the last 12 months, but over the last couple of months, the ODI team have found their belief. They have started to think like all the Aussie sides of yesteryears and they think they can win it from anywhere. And you can’t manufacture that. You have to do it a few times,’ added Warne.

    Australia’s World Cup campaign will open against Afghanistan in Bristol on 1 June. The Aussies won the World Cup in 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2015.

    Photo: Getty Images

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