McDonald pleased with Australia’s ODI progress: ‘We have challenged ourselves with the structure of our team’

Australia head coach Andrew McDonald says it’s mission accomplished on several ODI fronts. Not only did the team bank consecutive ODI series wins against Zimbabwe and New Zealand, they did so amidst a background of change and experimentation.

The big question of who replaces Aaron Finch as ODI captain remains, but McDonald says the two ODI series in north Queensland offered invaluable insights ahead of the 50-over World Cup starting in 13 months time in India.

Australia beat Zimbabwe 2-1 in Townsville before putting the broom through New Zealand 3-0 in Cairns – all while McDonald tinkered with batting and bowling options. Marnus Labuschagne, Cameron Green and Sean Abbott played key roles.

“The exposure that we’re giving some players in [Josh] Inglis and Abbott and Green, with [Mitch] Marsh and [Marcus] Stoinis and [Pat] Cummins not in that last side, we’re just creating some depth,” McDonald said. “We have played some players in different roles.

“We have challenged ourselves with the structure of our team as well playing eight batters and trying to get more overs out of our allrounders. We got a lot of information out of the six games up here, in particular three games against New Zealand in difficult conditions.

“The pleasing factor is the adaptability of our players to work through different conditions and to play in many different ways.”

A plethora of batters and bowlers delivered crucial performances in the six ODIs. Green took his first ODI five-wicket haul against Zimbabwe and hit an unbeaten 89 to lead Australia to victory in game one against New Zealand.

Abbott was a menace to New Zealand’s batters in the second ODI, taking two wickets and sending down four maidens in a five-over spell.

Labuschagne, who waited till the first match against New Zealand for an outing, delivered a crucial partnership alongside Smith, whose 12th ODI century set Australia’s insurmountable total in game three.

The performances came with the squad knowing Finch would finish his ODI career for Australia after their northern swing. Now the question remains, who replaces him?

McDonald is in no rush to find an answer, with Finch to still play on as skipper through the coming T20 World Cup in October and November.

“It’s probably the end of the [T20] World Cup really isn’t it?” he said. “We have got a little bit of time to consider what those options look like. We’ve got the World Cup in front of us so that’s more pressing at this stage than filling the captaincy void.”

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