Lehmann planning for World Cup

The 2015 World Cup is likely out of sight for cricket fans still basking in Australia's Ashes victory - but Darren Lehmann and co cannot afford to let it be out of mind.

Australia's day-nighter against England on Sunday at the MCG will start a calendar year in which it will play as few as 13 one-dayers, its lightest workload since 1995.

In that period Australia has only twice played fewer than 20 one-dayers in a calendar year.

Once the coming five-match series against England is completed Australia's one-day squad will not convene until a midyear series in Zimbabwe, which is due to be three matches but could be expanded if South Africa is persuaded to join a tri-series.

Australia will then start the 2014-15 home summer with five one-dayers against South Africa. From there, its last matches before the home World Cup will be a tri-series this time next year against India and England, which could involve teams playing four matches each, or five if they reach the final.

It comes as no surprise that Australia coach Lehmann calls the England series ''very important''.

''We've started to play some good one-day cricket of late, which is pleasing,'' he said on Thursday. ''We've certainly got some areas to improve on, which we know, so from our point of view to get the squad right for the home World Cup is of high importance.

''I think Michael [Clarke] summed it up very well last week when he said after the Test series in England we needed to get back on track and start building that momentum.''

Lehmann said Australia's goal for the day series was not limited to preparing for the World Cup. He said he was eager to improve its second placing on the one-day rankings. Australia could potentially overhaul leader India, depending on the result in its series and India's concurrent five-match series in New Zealand.

''We want to be the best in the world in all formats. We know it's a lot of hard work but we need to do it more often and more consistently,'' he said.

Lehmann is hopeful a sprinkling of rest periods throughout the series, starting with Mitchell Johnson for Sunday's match, will be enough to sufficiently refresh Australia's weary Ashes warriors.

A year ago Australia rested captain Michael Clarke, David Warner and then wicketkeeper Matthew Wade for the first two one-dayers, against Sri Lanka. Lehmann, appointed as a coach and selector seven months ago, reiterated that the strategy had changed.

''We certainly don't want to go down the path [as] previously where we've rested clumps of players,'' he said.

''It's important we put the best side we can out, understanding it's been a hectic five Test matches. Some of the Test boys, especially, are a bit weary.''

The coach gave no indication of which two of the three opening batsmen in the squad - Warner, Aaron Finch or Shaun Marsh - would be at the top of the order for Sunday's match.

With Johnson rested, Australia's specialist pace attack will be drawn from Clint Mckay, Nathan Coulter-Nile and fit-again James Pattinson.

Mckay's form has been conspicuously poor this season, to the extent Melbourne Stars relinquished him to Australia one match earlier than it had to.

Lehmann conceded the 30-year-old, Australia's leading one-day wicket-taker in 2013, had not been in peak form.

''Obviously he's our one-day player of the year from last year,'' he said. ''He was very good in England [after the winter Ashes], a little bit disappointing in India - he'll know that - so he's got to bowl well and he'll have to start well,'' he said.

AUSTRALIA (from): Michael Clarke (c), George Bailey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Xavier Doherty, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Clint Mckay, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, David Warner, Shane Watson.

ENGLAND (from): Alastair Cook (c), Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Michael Carberry, Steven Finn, Chris Jordan, Eoin Morgan, Boyd Rankin, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes.

The story Lehmann planning for World Cup first appeared on WA Today.

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