"We're a big chance": Healy talks up men's World Cup hopes
Former Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy believes the one-day side is a genuine chance to win next year's World Cup despite being in the middle of a horror form slump.
Justin Langer's troops have lost 18 of their past 21 games in the 50-over format and have slumped to sixth in the ICC world rankings, just ahead of Bangladesh.
The Aussies look devoid of confidence, especially after a 2-1 defeat to South Africa in the recently completed series on home soil. The batsmen underperformed in the opening two matches before the bowlers failed to deliver at the death in the decider to allow the Proteas to monster a huge total that proved too much to chase.
But Healy is confident captain Aaron Finch and Co. have the tools to go all the way at the 2019 tournament.
"We're a big chance of winning the men's World Cup too, don't worry about that. We've got options all across the park," Healy, a brand ambassador for the Australian team's eyewear sponsor Specsavers, told news.com.au.
"We've got pace, we've got batting explosion, then we've got some more patient players. We've got everything that we need to win a World Cup if they're fully fit and firing, look out for that.
"I don't see a form slump too much. There were four overs in Hobart that really cost us … they've only got small facets of each game that are letting them down. They'll be able to overcome that, that's for sure, and they should enjoy England."
It's a bold call for a team that still doesn't know what's it's best XI is. Chris Lynn was promoted to open in the final match in Hobart against South Africa after Travis Head's poor form, leg-spinner Adam Zampa was left out of the first game then struggled for rhythm when he was given a chance and Glenn Maxwell's best spot in the batting order is still up for debate.
This week ex-Australian star Mike Hussey told the News Corp Cricket Unfiltered podcast a culture of selfishness had crept into the Australian camp because selectors had chopped and changed the side too much. As players feared for their spots, Hussey said they would become consumed with individual success rather than focusing on the bigger picture.
Healy said selectors needed to show more "love" towards players they picked in the national team and used the example of Zampa - who was dropped earlier this year before being recalled against the Proteas - to convey how tough it can be for players when they are uncertain about where they stand.
"Just talking to Adam Zampa, he said that's been an issue for him. He's never sure whether he's in or whether he's out, then he feels he's got to get wickets every game because he will be out (if he doesn't)," Healy said.
"You've got to be very patient with your communication with players, spending time with them and developing confidence.
"When you pick someone for Australia, you don't do it lightly. You tell them, 'We love you.' And if you love somebody, you're not going to drop them very easily.
"Good teams are afforded that sort of security. Smooth communication has to come back if it hasn't been there."
HEALY'S PERFECT RESPONSE TO RIVAL'S SLEDGING
Healy and Michael Slater used to share the field and then the commentary box but the two will go into battle this summer when they find themselves on opposing sides of the cricket commentary war.
The pair were forced to look elsewhere for gigs behind the microphone when Channel 9 lost the cricket TV broadcast rights to Channel 7 and Fox Sports, ending Nine's 40-year hold on the sport Down Under.
Healy - who still has a contract with Channel 9 - was scooped up by Fox as part of its new-look commentary line-up alongside former Nine stablemate Shane Warne, while Slater will be part of Channel 7's coverage, and the new divide has already sparked some friendly banter between the opposing camps.
Fox broadcasted some of the domestic one-day JLT Cup in October as well as the recently completed ODI series between Australia and South Africa, and is showing the women's World T20 on now.
Seven will start its cricket coverage in December when India arrives for its four-Test tour of Australia, and that later introduction has already given Healy the perfect ammunition when Slater ribs him about the upcoming ratings battle.
"There's heaps (of sledging) and mainly coming from Slats - he's pushing it," Healy told news.com.au.
"We just say to him, 'Well, how late are you starting? Sixth of December? Is it fair to start covering cricket then? We've got two months on you blokes.' So that's our retort.
"But when they both get in and against each other, Fox Sports and Seven, it'll be full-on, don't worry."
Healy said it came as a shock to him and his Nine colleagues when it was announced this year the summer of cricket would be shown on different networks for the first time in four decades, and jokingly revealed the commentary team ripped into Nine CEO Hugh Marks for costing them their dream jobs.
"It was really sudden. Sudden, and then it's gone, 40 years is gone," Healy said.
"No one, none of the television broadcasters, even the ones that ended up getting the rights deal, thought Nine were going to lose it.
"It was a very sudden decision all around and very dramatic.
"We had a final lunch in the boardroom at Nine and we bagged the chief executive Hugh Marks for five minutes, saying, 'You've just ripped us, you've lost our jobs.'
"We knew they (Channel 9) wanted to have the cricket but it just wasn't to be."
Healy spent Thursday morning in Brisbane alongside Aussie stars like Finch and Adam Zampa at a Specsavers event promoting the importance of getting your eyes tested.
"Cricket is an amazing game to have Specsavers involved with because good vision is crucial," Healy said.