Ian Chappell believes Australia’s recent revival and the impending return of Steve Smith and David Warner ensures they are ‘joint-favourites’ to win this summer’sWorld Cup.
Australia endured a dismal year on and off the field following the ball-tampering scandal that resulted in 12-month bans for former captain Smith and opening batsman Warner.
But Aaron Finch’s side fought back from 2-0 down to beat Virat Kohli’s India last month, before thrashing a depleted Pakistan side 5-0 away from home.
Chappell, who captained Australia to the final of the first World Cup in 1975, told Mid-Day: ‘Australia have completed a remarkable resurgence.
‘Transforming from a struggling ODI side to beat the highly ranked Indian team and follow that with a comprehensive series win over Pakistan in their home territory.
‘The India victory was even more remarkable given they were away and trailed the series 2-0. And Australia were missing four of their top players – two from suspension and an injured pair.
‘Australia’s spirited revival, plus the impending return of star players, now has them on an equal footing with India and England as joint-favourites to win the World Cup.’
A number of current and former players have rated England and India as the two stand-out teams ahead of this summer’s competition.
But James Anderson, England’s record wicket-taker in Test cricket, believes all ten teams competing in the World Cup are capable of reaching the semi-finals.
‘I’d be really disappointed if England don’t make the semis,’ Anderson said. ‘Before the one-day series against the Windies my head was nailed on and thinking ‘we’re definitely winning it’.
‘But then 2-2 against the West Indies, I know slightly different conditions, but it just showed the West Indies, who had to qualify for the World Cup, are still a threat.
‘So in my head now, there are ten teams that can potentially get into the semi-finals, you can’t take anyone for granted. It’s wide open but I’m still hopeful that England can go all the way.’