Australia must find a way to stop one-day rot

'Australia need to address their problems facing spin' (6:43)

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell discusses the ODI teams woes on their current tour of England (6:43)

The Australia team are resetting after tremendous upheaval and the World Cup is still a year away. But the side's performance in recent years, not to mention what has been a dismal series in England, suggests they have some major issues to address if they are to successfully defend their World Cup title.

Vulnerability to spin

If you were to look solely at Australia's figures against spin in this series you could be forgiven for thinking Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid were bowling on raging turners in the sub-continent, rather than on good batting surfaces in England that have hardly been conducive to spin. This is not a new issue for Australian batsmen, who learn their craft in a country where fast bowling is king and standard finger spinners must graft especially hard.

Since the 2015 World Cup, Australia have one of the worst records against spin of the top 10 countries. They average 34.03 facing spin, compared to India's 65.71 and England's 56.15. Only Bangladesh, Afghanistan and West Indies have fared worse.

Speaking before the fifth ODI, Rashid pointed to the way he and Moeen had been able to tie Australia down and induce some hesitancy.

"Aussies like to hit the ball down the ground, like to hit strong shots," said Rashid. "And we know that and so we look to block that off, get them to try sweeping or whatever."

Australia may have other batsmen available who are better players of spin, such as Steven Smith (whose ban will be over by the World Cup) or Peter Handscomb, but addressing this glaring vulnerability in a more comprehensive way is far more complex than spending more time in the nets playing spinners.

As Ian Chappell told ESPNcricinfo: "You have to have young guys coming through who've learnt to play spin bowling properly when they are at school and up through the club system. It's no good expecting guys to get through first-class and international cricket and they learn how to play spin bowling. It doesn't work that way."

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

It would be both tempting and easy for Australia to point to the players who are missing on this tour and assume the side will be a far more threatening prospect with the return of Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. There is, of course, some truth in this. Certainly Australia's attack has more speed and potency when the Big Three are present and the batting is far more robust when Smith and Warner are leading the way.

But it would be unwise to assume that all five will be fit and in form next summer in England. Australia's fast bowlers have Test series against India and Sri Lanka at home before they switch to a diet of white-ball cricket in the build up to the main course of the World Cup and in the past three years they have only on occasion been fully fit at the same time. Billy Stanlake has bowled sharply in spells, and shown his potential at this level. But the rest of the young and inexperienced attack has been exposed in English conditions where, if you don't quite have express pace and you don't move the ball sufficiently, the batsmen can fill their boots.

If it's risky to assume the first choice attack will automatically solve Australia's bowling problems, it is also a gamble to put all the batting eggs in the Smith and Warner basket. While both are so talented they would surely be included based only on their records, a year is a long time out of the game and the effect - both psychologically and on form - of such a long absence in such circumstances, is unknown. Australia rely on Smith and Warner more heavily than any other team; they have scored 30 percent of Australia's ODI runs since the 2015 World Cup to the beginning of this series. They need to find other batsmen to carry the load.

Keeping up with the Joneses

There is a whiff of England circa early 2015 in the way Australia construct an innings. Aaron Finch and David Warner have generally given them sprightly starts but the aforementioned vulnerability against spin often sees Australia slow down in the middle overs when the attention turns to accumulation while keeping wickets in hand for an onslaught in the final 10 to 15 overs.

Consider the words of Finch after Australia's defeat at Chester-le-Street: "We could have been more aggressive, no doubt," Finch said. "But the way we wanted to structure things is to be a bit more conservative with wickets in hand."

Australia are in danger of falling behind other sides who no longer think in terms of 350 being an unbeatable total. There are days when England's relentless attacking backfires but it has also been a major factor in taking them to No. 1 in the world and while Australia have a number of the sort of batsmen (Finch and Shaun Marsh, for example), who can reliably score, say 100 off 90 balls, more successful sides have several who can score 80 off 50 or 50 off 30.

Only three Australia batsmen have scored at a run-a-ball or better since the World Cup (min 10 innings): Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis. And while batsmen have come into selection consideration based on explosive Big Bash form, pacing an innings in 50-over cricket has proved to be a more challenging task. Perhaps the standard of the BBL is not quite as high as the success of the tournament suggests or perhaps we are seeing the impact of five years playing the domestic fifty-over tournament as a kind of pre-season tournament. Either way, the Australia batting plans look decidedly old-fashioned.

O Captain, my Captain!

Tim Paine has done an admirable job in leading Australia in the wake of the Cape Town fiasco. He has fronted every media obligation and answered every question with maturity and honesty. He instigated the handshakes that ushered in a series that has been played in good spirits. As the Australia players work to rebuild their reputation and prove they can be competitive without being accused of boorish behaviour, he has brought a sense of calm and stability to the squad and projected as much to the outside world.

But there is no hiding from the fact he has had an unsatisfactory series with the bat; he has averaged just 7.20. Alex Carey has outscored him in the two opportunities given to him and with Australia needing to shore up their batting it appears incongruous to have two wicketkeepers batting in the middle order when only one of them is making runs.

There would be no shame in Australia splitting the red-ball and white-ball captaincy roles and putting the experienced and eloquent Finch in charge of the one-day side while leaving Paine to captain the Test team.

Who goes where?

Trying to predict Australia's batting line-up before each match has proved to be more difficult than selecting the winning lottery numbers. Finch has yo-yoed up and down the order, D'Arcy Short started as an explosive opener before becoming a spinning allrounder and bowlers have done the hokey-pokey in and out of the side as Justin Langer gives each an opportunity to make their mark.

With so many players missing this series is very much about experimentation and experience. While the middle order undoubtedly needs shoring up, it's doubtful Finch will become a regular No. 5. As Chappell said: "I don't think it's ever a good idea to weaken a strength to try and strengthen a weakness. And that's what Australia are doing by moving Finch down to the middle order."

As Agar noted when asked about England's strengths: "They are playing like a team where everyone knows their role and they back themselves and each other to just go and do it. They've set the benchmark, no doubt."

And if a confident, aggressive England side in which everyone is comfortable in their is the benchmark, Australia have a long way to go if they are to succeed in their title defence.