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‘It is a bit of a concern’: The changes Chappelli would make to Australia’s middle order

The smell of fresh coffee wafting from the kitchen, the gentle pitter-patter of rain falling softly on the window sill, and the news that Australia pulled England’s pants down and spanked them in front of their own fans at The Home of Cricket.

If there’s a better way to start the day, we’re all ears.

England’s demoralising loss to Australia at Lord’s stands as the tournament’s highlight to date and bolsters the defending champion’s prospects of retaining the Cricket World Cup.

Former Test skipper Ian Chappell has lauded the captaincy of Aaron Finch whose form with the bat has done a complete about-face since the Australian summer.

“The Indians absolutely dismantled his technique and he was in a mess, it was a major problem, for the Australian selectors because if Finch continued struggling, what were you going to do – halfway into the world cup you’re going to drop your captain? He’s totally turned things around,” Chappelli tells Mark Levy and Mark ‘Piggy’ Riddell on Macquarie Sports Radio. 

“His captaincy in the field – and this is a big tick to him – even when he was struggling with the bat, his captaincy in the field still held up so he’s done a terrific job.”

While impressive, Australia’s performance was far from perfect with the middle order batsmen failing to build adequately on the strong foundations laid by the top order.

Chappelli highlights one glaring selection issue: Usman Khawaja.

“I don’t see the point of picking Khawaja if he’s not opening the batting, and he’s obviously not going to be opening the batting, and I don’t see why Smith is batting at 4, Smith has got to bat at 3 and you’ve got to give him as many overs as possible and if Smith bats at 3 then you’re much better off with Shaun Marsh coming in at 4,

“Then you’ve got the problem of Stoinis and Maxwell, you never know whether Maxwell is in form or not but he seems to be in the mentality at the moment at a quick 20 will do the job, the other problem is that all the teams know he’s susceptible to the short delivery and he’s going to cop plenty of those,

“It is a bit of a concern and in the knockout stages, you’ve only got to lose Finch or  Warner early and then it becomes a bigger problem.”

If the batting order requires further tinkering then selectors should be able to sleep easy knowing that the current crop of bowlers are lethal and have proven their aptitude by dismantling England’s lauded batting line up.

Mitchell Starc’s 4 for 43 is a continuation of his blistering form but it was Jason Behrendorf’s maiden 5 for 44 which the selectors should find impossible to ignore.

“Even before the game started I liked the selection of the bowling attack for this match, I thought it was very good, I thought it was long overdue for Nathan Lyon to get a game and the selection of Jason Behrendorf was genius,” Chappelli said.

“I was worried about the Australian attack after Cummins and Starc, and by bringing Behrendorf in, he’s mainly a new ball bowler and doesn’t bowl so much later in the innings – although he did at Lord’s – that puts Cummins back into more of the middle overs and that I think plays in Australia’s favour,

Behrendorf’s game-changing performance with the ball creates an interesting parallel for the Aussie selectors who, in previous matches, had favoured Nathan Coulter-Nile but his figures of 4 for 70 over the course of the tournament have done little to guarantee his place in the side.

Chappelli believes the Australian brains trust might stick with the formula which decimated England’s lauded batting lineup.

“The original idea might have been Behrendorf as a Lord’s specialist or even an England specialist… plus I think Lyon is a better bowler than Zampa by quite a margin.”

In addition to wily selections from Justin Langer, Chappelli praises the Aussies for playing well, particularly their efforts in the field.

“England looked shabby in the field, Australia terrific, so all round a good performance,” he said.

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