The Bison, the speed demon, and the fringe-dweller: Who will defend Australia’s World Cup title in 2027?

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Pat Cummins and his men may not know it yet but the chances of Australia’s victorious World Cup XI playing together again are close to zero.

None of Australia’s five other champion sides did. You have to go back to 1996 to find a World Cup-winning side on the same team sheet again. The fact Sri Lanka were involved in a tri-series two weeks later would have been a significant factor.

Australia won a sixth World Cup in India. Who will be back for the title defence in 2027?Credit: Getty Images

The adage if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward fits hand in glove with managing a team in the World Cup cycle.

Australia fielded 38 different players in the 55 matches from the end of the 2019 World Cup to last week’s final, taking until the 50th game in that period to find the XI that would take them to the sixth title. The final was just their third game as an XI.

With 35 games slated in the future tours program between now and the 2027 World Cup in Africa, they will likely churn through a similar number of personnel again.

Selectors this time face the added challenge of managing generational change. Only four players from this year’s squad are under 30.

The likelihood of more than one of David Warner (41 in 2027), Steve Smith (38), Mitchell Starc (37), Glenn Maxwell (39) or Josh Hazlewood (36) making it back in four years’ time is less than 50-50, but you wouldn’t write any of them off just yet. The chances of Starc and Hazlewood returning rise if they have retired from Tests.

With assistance of industry sources familiar with the talent pool in Australia, this masthead has taken a crack at what a possible XI could look like for the title defence, and some of the names – obvious and obscure – selectors will look at.

Travis Head (c)

At the age of 29, Australia’s hero in India should still be close to the peak of his powers to again be a force in four years’ time. We’ve installed him as captain given Cummins’ publicly stated position of handing over the leadership before he retires.

Mitchell Marsh

If the man they call “the Bison” remains durable, he is the favourite to partner Head at the top of the order, but selectors will cast the net wide. Josh Inglis will get chances, Matt Short is in the frame and young guns Teague Wyllie and Cooper Connolly could push late in the cycle. Surely, David Warner is jesting that he’ll be back as a 41-year-old in 2027?

Matt Short

Selectors showed their hand by giving the Victorian opportunities at the top of the order either side of the World Cup. He needs some big scores to force selectors to make a tough call on Steve Smith, who will be 38 for the title defence. Ben McDermott has had success at three but has areas he needs to improve get the best out of himself.

Marnus Labuschagne

A fringe-dweller who somehow played every game in the World Cup, should become an integral part of the middle order in the coming years. Lock him in to be the middle-order linchpin.

Cameron Green

The star all-rounder starts this summer out of the national side in all three formats but will be in his prime and central to Australia’s hopes of a seventh crown in Africa. His seam bowling will be crucial in pace-friendly South Africa.

Aaron Hardie

If it wasn’t for Green, this West Australian all-rounder would be seen as the next big thing in Australian cricket. Selectors gave him a taste of international cricket in September. Expect him to get more chances whenever Glenn Maxwell is rested.

Josh Inglis

The gloves in the white-ball arena are his for the next few years. The question is where he will end up batting. A capable finisher, Inglis can also muscle runs at the top. Seven will most likely be too low for him. Josh Philippe still has admirers so could go as the back-up.

Bangladesh’s captain Shanto is run out by Australian wicketkeeper Josh Ingis.Credit: AP

Pat Cummins

As the youngest of Australia’s big three quicks, Cummins is best placed of them to make it to Africa, assuming he has not retired from ODIs to focus on Tests. He showed during the World Cup he has the skills to adjust to the 50-over game even with limited exposure, so being rested for bilateral series should not be a problem.

Jhye Richardson

If you’d said in early 2019 Richardson would not have played a World Cup by now we’d have laughed at you. The West Australian quick has speed and swing but has been hit hard by injuries. We’re banking on him to be over them in four years. Sean Abbott and Nathan Ellis are also in the picture, but Hazlewood and Starc must be displaced first.

Pace bowler Jhye Richardson celebrates a wicket for the Perth Scorchers.Credit: Getty Images

Spencer Johnson

The find of last summer’s Big Bash, the giant left-armer has already been identified by selectors as a player of national interest. May even play later this summer if Starc is unavailable.

Tanveer Sangha

At the risk of ending up in Adam Zampa’s receipts list, I’ve gone for NSW’s rising leggie to take over as Australia’s No.1 50-over spinner towards the back end of this World Cup cycle. This isn’t so much a knock on Zampa, who still has plenty to give and will take some tipping out, but a recognition of how talented this kid is. Forgotten spinner Ashton Agar still has time to come again.

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