A day doesn’t pass without Justin Langer thinking about Australia’s World Cup squad, with perhaps the most challenging conundrum being the question of spin.
Australia selected a frontline spinner just once en route to their 2015 World Cup win, otherwise backing a star-studded pace attack while Glenn Maxwell chipped in with a bit of offspin.
Things are expected to be very different in England later this year, when the hosts loom large as World Cup favourites and little is expected of an Australian outfit that has won three of their past 21 ODIs.
Tweakers Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid have both played a key role in England’s emergence as the best one-day side in the world and will be a handful late in the tournament on wearing wickets.
India will also likely roll out two or three spinners in their side throughout the event and indeed at the SCG, where their three-match series against Australia starts on Saturday.
It sets the stage for an intriguing selection showdown between Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon, although the former insists they can work well together in the same XI.
Selectors may also agree.
“There’s no reason why not. A lot of the teams around the world are doing it,” Langer said.
“No doubt India will do it against us.”
Zampa and Lyon were poised to play together in Sydney this weekend, although Mitch Marsh’s illness-enforced omission makes that prospect far less likely.
Away series against India and Pakistan in coming months will give Australia’s best spinners a better chance to make their case before the World Cup squad is picked.
Langer suggested World Cup spots are up for grabs but added he knew “the perfect team we’d like to have for England”.
“You’d like to think nobody ever feels confident they’re locked in,” he said.
Lyon has played 15 ODIs in a stop-start career dating back to 2012 but Langer is adamant the Test offspinner can be just as potent in canary yellow.
“He’s the best spin bowler in the world,” Langer said.
“It would be a wasted opportunity not to have him in white-ball cricket … particularly with a World Cup coming up.
“He’s also a gun fieldsman … like a little whippet.”
Zampa is keen to learn from Lyon as the duo hunt Indian wickets and a World Cup berth.
“Hopefully we get the opportunity to play together,” he said.
“You’d assume once the World Cup goes on the wickets will get tired, so hopefully it does suit the spinners.”
Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins have been rested from the ODI series against India, while suspended superstars Steve Smith and David Warner are also expected to be part of Australia’s World Cup defence.