Australian ODI captain Aaron Finch has spoken out over the importance of the upcoming three-match series against Zimbabwe in Townsville.
The series was originally supposed to be played last winter, however, the effects of coronavirus and Australia's strict quarantine rules for international travellers caused the series to be postponed.
Australia now have a white-ball heavy start to the summer, with three ODIs against Zimbabwe in Townsville to be followed by three against New Zealand in Cairns next week.
Attention will then turn to the T20 World Cup, with a short trip to India, followed by matches at home against the West Indies and England leading into the World Cup on home soil.
It's the ODI World Cup and preparation for the tournament which will be at the forefront of Australia's mind this week though, while Zimbabwe are still an outside chance of qualifying for the tournament directly and will be pushing for wins in Townsville in conditions which could suit the tourists.
Between now and the ODI World Cup, Australia play a grand total of 23 ODIs, making every match critical, and Zimbabwe will be no pushover after giving India a serious scare last week.
Finch told Fox Sports every match is critical in different conditions, with Indian conditions also varying in the shortest form of the game around the country.
“I think every game that we play is with one eye towards the World Cup in ’23,” Finch told Fox Sports.
“I don’t think the conditions matter when you’re looking to structure up your team a couple of different ways.
“So we’ll see over the next little while. There might be times when we go in with four bowlers, there might be times when we go in with three bowlers and a heap of all-rounders. We might go in with five specialist bowlers … whether you play two spinners and an all-rounder. There’s just so many different ways that we can play.
“We just want to make sure we’re not pigeonholing ourselves into one style of play and one way of playing.
“When it comes to the subcontinent, playing in India, depending if you’re north or south, or east or west, you can have totally different conditions. So you have to be able to build a really flexible unit that’s tried and tested.
“Because you get a feel for how the team functions depending on how you structure up as well, so I think that’s really important.”
The first ODI of the series will be played on Sunday morning, getting underway at 9:40am (AEST).