Monday 17 February, 2020

Australia well set for CWC title defence, says Hughes

Australia's ODI side.

Australia's ODI side.

Merv Hughes suggested Australia have been dismissed too easily and are in good shape to retain their Cricket World Cup (CWC) title.

Australia defeated co-hosts New Zealand in the 2015 final, yet it is England, the top-ranked team and 2019 hosts, who have been talked up as the clear candidates this year.

However, former Australia star Hughes claims the defending champions, boosted by the returns of Steve Smith and David Warner, are in "a pretty good position".

"It's been interesting since the last World Cup," Hughes told Omnisport. "I think people expect you to win all of the games, but at different times you have different priorities.

"We went to South Africa with an undermanned squad because the Ashes was looming. Then we went to England last year and got beaten convincingly, but we had come off a three-month break and England had been playing.

"We had probably six, seven, maybe eight men who would normally play one-day cricket not on that tour. It was a chance to look at some up-and-coming players, some took their chance and some didn't.

"It's interesting a lot of Australian people were worried and probably a lot of English people were pretty happy with the way the Australia one-day side had been going.

"But ultimately, who is the current World Cup holder? That is Australia.

"We have played England and South Africa with under-strength teams, but the World Cup is different. The Australians are in a pretty good position, I think."

Yet Hughes still considers England the most obvious rivals to Australia's crown.

"England in home conditions are always going to be a threat," he said. "South Africa can be up there and India have got a good team together.

"West Indies, no one ever rates them and they are hit and miss. When they hit, they hit well."

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