THERE is nothing that bolsters the national mood quite like coming out on the right side of a whitewash.
Down and out after a mauling at the hands of South Africa in Hobart less than two months ago, the Australian cricket community is smiling again after completing a clean sweep over three Tests against Pakistan.
The nature of the victory in Sydney has pundits and punters alike predicting a dominant display in the upcoming One Day International series.
David Warner’s ludicrous 55 off 27 balls set the tone for a second innings that played more like a Twenty20 game than anything else.
Smith (59 off 43 balls), Usman Khawaja (79 off 95 balls) and Peter Handscomb (40 off 25 balls) also bashed out runs at a fair clip.
Yet Handscomb, enjoying the form of several lifetimes, was deemed surplus to requirements for the limited-overs fixtures.
So too were Aaron Finch and George Bailey, both dropped after failing to convince the revamped selection panel during the recent Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series.
“Both George Bailey and Aaron Finch have been prominent players in the ODI squad over the past few years but both of them have missed out on places in this squad,” chief selector Trevor Hohns told the press on Saturday.
“George has scored one fifty in his past 10 ODIs and, while his form has not been disastrous, it has not been to his usual standard so we have decided to look at younger players in the middle order in this instance.
“Aaron, across the past four series in the Caribbean, Sri Lanka, South Africa and the Chappell-Hadlee series, has scored four fifties in his last 18 innings.
“I have spoken to both players and they understand our perspective as selectors.”
Also out is Hilton Cartwright, fresh off a Test debut at the SCG.
The West Australian allrounder was picked for the three-match series against New Zealand in December but didn’t play a game.
“Hilton Cartwright is unlucky to miss out having been included in the previous squad for the Chappell-Hadlee series but we believe we are well-served with all-round options, with Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner and Travis Head,” Hohns said.
“Hilton has now had a taste of international cricket and we want him to go back to his state and demand inclusion in the limited-overs formats, something we believe he is capable of doing.”
That leaves room for Khawaja to return as Warner’s opening partner, while Chris Lynn walks into the middle order on the back of a stunning run in the Big Bash League.
“He’s exciting to watch, isn’t he?” Australia coach Darren Lehmann said of Lynn.
“Everyone loves what he’s brought to the T20 format. Now the challenge for him is to do it in the one-day format, which we know he can.
“He’s had some injury concerns in the past but seems to be batting well and deserves his spot.”
The biggest surprise on the 14-man roster was the inclusion of Billy Stanlake.
At 204 centimetres, the South Australian quick is set to become the tallest man ever to play for Australia.
And with only two first-class games, four domestic one-dayers and seven T20 outings under his belt, the 22-year-old also ranks among the least experienced selections in the history of international cricket.
One man not at all surprised by Stanlake’s call-up was Khawaja – his teammate at Queensland.
“His name was mentioned last year before he got injured, he’s just that kind of bowler,” said the Australian Test star.
“He’s a tall bloke, bowls fast, hits the bat hard and he’s very ugly to face.
“The selectors think he’s ready and I’m sure that he is and if he gets a chance he’ll do really well.
“He’s very tall and very fast, and that’s two commodities you don’t get together a lot of times.
“Either you bowl fast and you’re not as tall, or you’re tall and you’re not as fast. But he can do both which is quite impressive.”
The Pakistanis have made some changes of their own.
Mohammed Hafeez is a late inclusion, called up only a hours after the conclusion of the SCG Test.
Another recent addition is the enormous Mohammad Irfan – a very tricky seamer and, at over seven feet tall, quite possibly the tallest cricketer of all time.
Also coming in for the 50-over games are Umar Akmal, Hasan Ali, Shoaib Malik and Imad Wasim.
Australia vs. Pakistan ODI betting markets
Online bookmakers appear rather reticent to put up any futures markets for this one.
Perhaps that is because so many punters are backing a double whitewash.
William Hill – one of the few bookies with any outright markets up at this stage – has Australia pegged at a mere $1.15 to take out the series.
The quote for Friday’s series opener at the Gabba is slightly more generous at $1.30, with Pakistan offering value at $3.40 for those who fancy an upset.
David Warner ($3.75) and Azhar Ali ($4.35) are the obvious favourites for top team runscorer after their exploits in the Test series.
It’s all about the left-arm quicks in the top bowler betting, with Mitchell Starc at $3.50 for the Aussies and Mohammad Amir – despite some injury concerns – at $4 for the visitors.
Australia – $1.30
Pakistan – $4.30
Top Australia batsman
David Warner – $3.75
Usman Khawaja – $4
Steven Smith – $4.50
Chris Lynn – $5
Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell – $8
Mitchell Marsh – $10
Matthew Wade – $21
James Faulkner – $34
Pat Cummins – $51
Mitchell Starc – $81
Top Pakistan batsman
Azhar Ali – $4.35
Sarfraz Ahmed, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik – $5.50
Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Sharjeel Khan – $6
Mohammad Rizwan – $13
Mohammad Nawaz – $15
Imad Wasim – $17
Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz – $67
Top Australia bowler
Mitchell Starc – $3.50
Pat Cummins, James Faulkner – $4.50
Billy Stanlake, Adam Zampa – $5
Mitchell Marsh – $7
Glenn Maxwell – $11
Travis Head – $15
Top Pakistan bowler
Mohammad Amir – $4
Mohammad Irfan – $4.35
Wahab Riaz – $4.50
Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Rahat Ali – $5
Mohammad Nawaz – $6
Shoaib Malik – $13
All markets provided by WilliamHill.com.au
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