Warne’s Aussie wishlist: they need to fear us again
A WORLD Cup and the Ashes are just about the two biggest things you can have as an Australian cricketer.
That makes this home summer so big, because they are both happening next year and now, more than ever before, there are so many spots up for grabs.
If you are a young Australian batsman now, what a time to come out and play amazing cricket and work your butt off to be the best version of yourself you can be - to take every opportunity, whether it's a Sheffield Shield game, a one-day game, a Big Bash game, whatever the game, you have to find a way to find form.
And if you do, you could find yourself on a plane to England, spending four months there playing in a World Cup (from late May) and an Ashes series (from August).
The World Cup is something super special. I was lucky enough to win one, and we lost a final in one as well. It's like the Olympics of one-day cricket: it only comes around once every four years and it's all about being in form.
Every one-day game leading up to a World Cup becomes important. The first thing you need to do as a team is have your style of play down pat.
Secondly, I don't believe you should be trying a lot of different players. You should work out your best team and try and play together in as many games as possible leading in.
If you do that, you start to learn where your bowlers bowl best, who fields where - so it becomes automatic - batsmen learn to bat together, run between the wickets, and you get a feel for each other. Just hanging out together, in the dressing rooms, team hotels, learning to get along, that becomes super important, too.
Settling on that best team is one thing you can try and do now, and I believe there are a few must picks, and the best Australia side will look nothing like the one that went down 5-0 to England.
Steve Smith and Dave Warner get straight back in when they are available because they are two of the top five players in the world. Their history, their pedigree, their class, what they bring to the team, the fear factor for the opposition, the way they impose themselves on the game; they are already a lock.
But there are other guys you have to pick, though, and you can pick them now - for this summer.
Aaron Finch is my choice as captain. I'd like to see him captain all forms for the game, too. His one-day and T20 cricket is outstanding and if he can seize his opportunity in the Test team, I believe he has a lot to offer in red-ball cricket.
Captaincy is such a crucial element, especially in a World Cup, and I like his captaincy style. He's a must pick.
Alex Carey and Marcus Stoinis can play all summer and cement their spots, and among the bowlers Mitch Starc is the best death bowler in world cricket, Andrew Tye's variations could be so important and Nathan Lyon is underused in white-ball cricket.
He's been picked in the national T20 team, which is good, and needs to be in the one-day team, too.
I'm so excited about the six ODIs, against South Africa and India, and the Tests, and the opportunity they provide to launch in to everything that's happening next year.
But it's a two-fold scenario. There are great opportunities for the guys I think should be in the team to cement their spots, but they shouldn't take anything for granted.
With so much cricket to be played, including Sheffield Shield and Big Bash, there are no guarantees for anyone.
Even if my "must picks" don't find form, they are out.
If other players leap out with their performances and demand to be picked, senior players and big-name players might find themselves out of the team.
That's where we are in Australian cricket right now, and especially with such a big year coming up. I have no problem with that, with guys losing their spots if they don't perform.
Australia doesn't have a great recent record in one-day cricket and I don't think teams fear us anymore. With Australia's batting being average at the moment, probably as weak overall as it has been in a long time, that doesn't help that aura.
It's why this summer is so huge for the Australian team because they have to get back the respect of the world cricket community and the respect of the Australian cricket public after what happened in South Africa.
But they also have to create that fear from other teams, the fear they used to create, that has helped Australia be so dominant at World Cups.
The only way they can do that is by playing some bloody good cricket. They need to start to play dynamic cricket again, winning everything, and teams will start to fear them again. I can't wait for that series against South Africa, then India.
It's a great lead-in for what's to come in 2019, and a massive, massive summer in itself."