Steven Smith of Australia
Sydney, Australia (BBN)-Australia are used to being favourites for the World Cup.
The four-time champions are the most successful side in the tournament and are the No. 1 ODI team in the world, reports
Watching Australia cruise to victory in the ODI tri-series against India and England showed why they are again the front-runners.
It is no surprise every bookmarker has them has favourites.
The reasons for believing they will claim victory in the final in Melbourne on 29 March are many.
First, there is home advantage. Australia haven’t lost an ODI series on home soil since 2009.
This summer they have beaten South Africa 4-1 and easily dismantled England and India.
They only time they didn’t win a game in the tri-Series was when it rained all day in Adelaide.
Australia will play all of their matches – barring the game against New Zealand – at home, and, depending on results, could play all their knockout matches at home too.
Second, Australia’s batting line-up thrives in familiar conditions.
David Warner is the best opener in the world right now, and on Australian pitches he is brutal.
All three of his ODI hundreds have come at home, including one against England just three innings ago. Aaron Finch is the perfect attacking foil.
While he does not have the class of Warner, he has an excellent ODI record.
Steve Smith is the form batsmen in the world right now.
The only way he looks like getting out is when he gets overconfident.
He might be moving around in his crease more than is recommended, but it is really, really working.
After an Australian summer that saw him score 1249 international runs at an average of 104 with six centuries, he has the opportunity to stamp his authority on the World Cup.
Glenn Maxwell shaved his beard and found some form in the tri-Series final. While his stroke play can be exasperating for fans and coaches alike, he is one of the most exciting players in the world.
At times he has gone too hard, too early but in the final in Perth he didn’t play an extravagant shot until he was past 60.
Admittedly, George Bailey has struggled for form in recent matches, but is an excellent leader and a brilliant finisher in one day cricket.
If Bailey cannot find his form, Michael Clarke is waiting in the wings.
While there are whispers that his relationship with the team and Cricket Australia is strained, it seems that, in public at least, he will be in the World Cup squad as long as he is fit.
Clarke returned to grade cricket this weekend and made a half century.
The latest news is that he will be playing a limited role in the warm-up match against Bangladesh and the expectation is that he will be fit by the 21st February deadline set by the selectors.
The bigger worry is the injury to James Faulkner.
There are few cricketers as capable of wreaking havoc with the bat in the death overs as Faulkner.
His 50 off 24 balls against England is a prime example of the damage he can do.
Faulkner also holds the record for the fastest ODI hundred by an Australian, so he can bat big too.
Third, the bowling offers just as many reasons to be excited as the batting.
Mitchell Johnson eviscerated England’s top-order on his return from a month off. Josh Hazlewood is averaging 22 with the ball in ODIs.
Mitchell Starc’s six wickets against India in the second match of the tri-Series were an excellent example of what he can produce.
There are some areas of concern, primarily in the spin bowling department.
While the battery of quick men at Australia’s disposal are second to none, Xavier Doherty is the front line spinner in the squad and he isn’t getting a game.
Instead, the better than part-time, but not full-time, bowling of Glenn Maxwell has been preferred.
 In the sub-continent that would be an issue, but in Australia where off spinners have often struggled, Australia can get away with it. After all, Maxwell took 4 for 46 in the tri-series final.
The biggest threat to Australia appears to be South Africa. Hashim Amla, Rillee Roussow and AB de Villiers are fantastic batsmen. Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Imran Tahir are a fine bowling attack.
But that doesn’t change the fact that they lost to Australia in a series in these conditions in November and have never won a knock-out game in any ICC competition.
New Zealand are the other team who have the potential to topple Australa. They also have home advantage, possibly all the way to the final, and are a team on the rise. Their seam bowling is perfect for conditions in New Zealand. Brendon McCullum is an outstanding captain and a brilliant opener. Kane Williamson is on the fast track to greatness. New Zealand also tends to exceed expectations in World Cups.
Still, Australia should win this World Cup. Their batting is too good, their bowling is too explosive. They are confident and that self-belief is justified. It may not be as easy as it was 2003 and 2007, but the 2015 ICC World Cup is Australia’s to lose.
BBN/AS-4Feb15-10:10am (BST)