World Twenty20: Sixth verse, same as the first

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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    If the definition of insanity really is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result each time, then the Australian selectors have shown that when it comes to Twenty20 strategies and game plans, they’re properly certifiable.

    In the five previous edition of the ICC World Twenty 20, Australia has lost the final in 2010 (to England in the Caribbean), finished third in 2007 and 2012, finished eighth of 16 teams in 2014, and 11th of 12 teams in 2009.

    And unless there’s a rapid rethink of current selection and strategies for the sixth edition of the WT20 kicking off in March, it’s hard to see how Australia’s consistently inconsistent record in the tournament will improve.

    There should be massive alarm bells ringing in the selection room with the way Australia’s bigger hitters have been rendered completely ineffective when the ball is not coming onto the bat. With India hosting the WT20, it’s patently clear that slower and particular spin bowling is going to play a huge role.

    More cricket:
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    » Faulkner’s flagging, Watson’s flying

    Moreover, India have again proven – if it wasn’t already obvious after six weeks of the Big Bash League – that taking the pace off the ball is still superbly effective on the harder Australian pitches.

    The selectors ignored a number of batting options in bringing the squad together for the three matches against India, preferring to pin all hopes on long hitters. Even knowing that India were going to bowl spin for at least 40 per cent of the innings, footwork and subtlety was eschewed for fence-clearing and POW-WER!

    The result has been rather predictable. Australia started well in all three games – 1/56 in Adelaide, 0/62 in Melbourne, and 1/57 in Sydney – but as soon as the Ravis, Jadeja and Ashwin, came into the attack, the power game was replaced by leaden feet and poor execution borne out of desperation. When Yuvraj Singh was thrown the ball at the SCG, half the balls the Australian batsmen faced were bowled off just a couple of steps.

    You can’t imagine it being much less than 10 overs of spin per game once they get to India.

    Even just a token amount of research could see teams playing three and even four spinners against Australia, given the evidence presented in this series. Jadeja and Ashwin took nine wickets between them at 20.5, and Yuvraj chipped in with another couple himself. In total, 11 of the 23 wickets Australia lost in the three games fell to spin.

    And this means that the Australian squad for the World T20 can’t be heaving with top-order slappers. Room has to be found for the players capable of pushing the ones and twos in the middle overs with the field spread.

    Narrowing the field down to seven batting options was already going to difficult, as I identified last week. In that column, I suggested that five bats – Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, George Bailey, and Usman Khawaja – were probably playing for the final two spots behind the evidently certain picks of David Warner, Shane Watson, Steven Smith, and Glenn Maxwell.

    I have no doubt Aaron Finch will go to India, with Cricket Australia confirming yesterday his hamstring injury did not require surgery. I’ve raised my doubts over his captaincy before, though, and it was interesting to read yesterday’s injury update specifically mention that along with the WT20 squad being named on February 11, “the captain for the tournament would be announced when the squad was revealed.”

    To use Ryan Buckland’s line, that might mean nothing, but I’ll bet it means something.

    Now that the series is done, I think I’m leaning toward Bailey and Khawaja winning those final spots, and further, that both probably should slot into the preferred XI.

    Watson’s hundred on Sunday night, and his IPL experience and record probably squeezes Marsh out now, in my opinion. Twice Marsh was guilty of poor shot selection and/or execution when his partner was off to a belting start. In Warner, Watson, and Finch – never mind Smith and Khawaja – Australia just doesn’t need another top order bat.

    Head will quite likely have a long international career, but this tournament is maybe six months or a year too early for him. Lynn can – and in this series, did – get bogged down by spin, and that will only become more pronounced in India. When the ball’s coming on, Lynn is as destructive a ball-striker as anyone, but that’s just not that likely to be the case on the subcontinent.

    And so in putting all this forward, I’m essentially leaning toward a top six of Warner and Watson opening, Khawaja, Maxwell and Smith in the middle, but somewhat interchangeable as the situation needs, and with Bailey at no.6 to close out the innings.

    Perhaps if Finch doesn’t get there – he tweeted during the second innings on Sunday night that he’ll be right – that might reopen the door for Marsh, but I don’t think he’d be in the top six, either way.

    If nothing else, this series has proved that Australia still has a lot of work to do to be a threat to the Twenty20 format. Sure, shooting oneself in the foot via the selection table for a decade often hasn’t helped, but the penny has to drop that an all-power game is ineffective in those conditions.

    For Australia to have any chance at the World Twenty20 next month, it just has to.

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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    The Crowd Says (173)

    • February 2nd 2016 @ 5:23am
      Prosenjit said | February 2nd 2016 @ 5:23am | ! Report

      If aus selectors are still looking for a place for marsh like you..they’ve absolutely no chance.

      • Columnist

        February 2nd 2016 @ 9:03am
        Brett McKay said | February 2nd 2016 @ 9:03am | ! Report

        Um, I squeezed Marsh out of the squad………

        • February 3rd 2016 @ 9:21am
          The truth hurts said | February 3rd 2016 @ 9:21am | ! Report

          Agreed and fair rebuttle just a point you may or may not agree with Brett but I think Maxwells lack of technique in certain areas of his defence will get found out on Indian wickets as well . There are times when the so called big show is all too often a no show and his average I think in the short form , which is not scary by any stretch reflects a lack of technique and brain fades but when his flamboyant style comes off we seem to forget all those times when it does not. I am going to watch with interest how he handles swinging conditions in NZ as well something that is an Achilles heel of the entire Australian batting line up and to his grear credit Steve Smith has been honest enough to admit this. This will be an interesting series all round and as Craddick said in the SMH this wiil decide whether Australia are and average side but home ground wonders or a side of quality and I agree. Williamson will prove he is a better player than Smith as well by the end of it amd indeed he out batted Smith in his home conditions in the series in Australia anyway and he is the only batsman in the world ranked in the top 6 in all three formats which speaks eons about his technique and class in all conditions across all formats

          • February 3rd 2016 @ 10:36am
            Don Freo said | February 3rd 2016 @ 10:36am | ! Report

            Maxi’s technique is very sound and very traditional. You are talking about Glenn Maxwell, aren’t you? Not Neil Maxwell?

            Maybe technique is the word you are struggling with. Do you mean shot selection?

    • Roar Rookie

      February 2nd 2016 @ 6:26am
      Tana Mir said | February 2nd 2016 @ 6:26am | ! Report

      I would open with Khawaja and Watson, then Warner at 3. Just think Khawaja is better player in power play.

      I would also play Zampa and Boyce together. Indians love off-Spin. We have Maxi who can bow few as well and cover off spin.

      For me:
      Khawaja
      Watson
      Warner
      Smith/Maxi
      Smith/Maxi
      Bailey
      Nevill
      Faulkner ( I back him, vast experience and better than what we have at this stage)
      Zampa
      Hazelwood
      Boyce

      • February 2nd 2016 @ 7:53am
        Anwar said | February 2nd 2016 @ 7:53am | ! Report

        Good line up and to could either open with khawaj or Watson or have Warner open with khawaj at 3

      • February 2nd 2016 @ 7:55am
        VivGilchrist said | February 2nd 2016 @ 7:55am | ! Report

        My exact starting XI.

        • February 2nd 2016 @ 9:08am
          Amith said | February 2nd 2016 @ 9:08am | ! Report

          I like this lineup too, if finch is fit then i would have watson in the middle order but if he is not then we get lucky as watson is even in better form and can bowl too. I would go with watson, warner, khawaja, smith as our top 4. Khawaja at 3 will be great as he is in sublime form Also for the NZ series It will be hard to watch the ODI and test series knowing what an enormous shadow the absence of Starc casts over the contests in the back of my mind. Cummins absence is perhaps less impactful because the guy has never been and likely will never be healthy enough to make his presence truly felt. I’m thinking 2-1 in the ODIs and 1-0 in the two test series (almost threw up when I said that due to the absent third test) but I have no clue who will come out victorious but hopefully its us and hopefully boof is there.

          • February 2nd 2016 @ 9:26am
            Andrew said | February 2nd 2016 @ 9:26am | ! Report

            Watson, Khawaja, Warner, smith, maxwell and Lynn as my top 6

      • Columnist

        February 2nd 2016 @ 8:39am
        Brett McKay said | February 2nd 2016 @ 8:39am | ! Report

        I don’t mind this Tana, and it’s obviously the same six bats I’m leaning toward. But I do wonder if they will take two leggies – in fact, I wonder if they’ll take two specialist spinners at all. I think they wanted Lyon to go a bit better than he did, and so his place might be in doubt again..

        • Roar Rookie

          February 2nd 2016 @ 9:01am
          Tana Mir said | February 2nd 2016 @ 9:01am | ! Report

          Brett, I’m really hoping common sense prevails and they pick 2 spinners. Currently we just don’t have the fast men available that can do well on slow Indian wickets. Boyce passed with flying colors and Zampa is all quality.
          Off spin in India, unless you have a mystery ball, gets smashed.

          • Columnist

            February 2nd 2016 @ 9:02am
            Brett McKay said | February 2nd 2016 @ 9:02am | ! Report

            Yeah, I can’t fault your thinking, I just wonder if they would be bold enough give up a bowling spot for another spinner..

            • February 2nd 2016 @ 9:09am
              Amith said | February 2nd 2016 @ 9:09am | ! Report

              Good points brett, i wouldn’t mind going for both boyce and Zampa, both have impressed me.

              • February 2nd 2016 @ 9:26am
                Andrew said | February 2nd 2016 @ 9:26am | ! Report

                Have we forgotten lyon

              • Columnist

                February 2nd 2016 @ 11:06am
                Brett McKay said | February 2nd 2016 @ 11:06am | ! Report

                Again, have you read the comments?

            • February 2nd 2016 @ 9:46am
              madmonk said | February 2nd 2016 @ 9:46am | ! Report

              they wont but when the seamers are going for 11 or 12 an over how much of a risk is it.

            • February 2nd 2016 @ 1:35pm
              BurgyGreen said | February 2nd 2016 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

              They’d be bolder to go with another pace bowler, considering how Boland, Tye and Tait went against India.

            • February 2nd 2016 @ 6:59pm
              Dog's Breakfast said | February 2nd 2016 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

              Agar? Can bat and field as well.

        • February 2nd 2016 @ 11:09am
          13th Man said | February 2nd 2016 @ 11:09am | ! Report

          Our pace bowling stocks are so thin we have to take two spinners.
          Would love to see both Zampa and Boyce picked.

          • Roar Guru

            February 2nd 2016 @ 11:44am
            pformagg said | February 2nd 2016 @ 11:44am | ! Report

            Even if we had top pace bowlers, India is still the spin capital, so two spinners is the logically selection in a match day squad.

      • February 2nd 2016 @ 10:38am
        Nudge said | February 2nd 2016 @ 10:38am | ! Report

        Yep really like tana’s team as well. I like the fact that from no 3 to 6 are really quick between the wickets which is critical outside the power play. Happy to back Faulkner as well.

      • February 2nd 2016 @ 12:15pm
        MickyC said | February 2nd 2016 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

        Agreed, definitely with Neville’s inclusion. If we don’t have enough runs on the board by the time our keeper comes on we’re in trouble. Need the best gloveman.

        • February 2nd 2016 @ 8:53pm
          Don Freo said | February 2nd 2016 @ 8:53pm | ! Report

          The reality is that Nevill is currently the best batsman of all the keepers too.

      • February 2nd 2016 @ 12:39pm
        Craig Swanson said | February 2nd 2016 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

        Agree. I have picked both young leggies as well. Watson’s ton has more than likely wiped Mitch Marsh from the squad. No room for three pace all rounders in India with turning pitches likely. Why have you bracketed Smith with Maxwell? I would not be taking Maxwell given his abysmal T20 international record. CA will select him though. Smith is a given and should captain or Bailey. I want Uzzie at three over Warner to strengthen our middle order in case of early wickets. Reckon CA would have picked Nevill in the T20 if he was a chance in the WC. WE need an accomplished keeper who has had loads of recent limited overs cricket. My money is on Tim Paine.
        My squad:
        Warner
        Watson (reluctantly)
        Khawaja.
        Smith
        Bailey
        Paine
        Faulkner
        Hazlewood
        Richardson
        Hastings
        Boyce

        Res: Maxwell (reluctantly), Zampa, Head/Agar, Tye/Laughlin/McKay, Agar/Handscomb.

        • Roar Rookie

          February 2nd 2016 @ 1:00pm
          Tana Mir said | February 2nd 2016 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

          Craig, Maxwell is one of the first to be picked in short form cricket. His performance for Kings XI have been phenomenal. His bowling and electric fielding pretty much makes him one of the first picked for any team.

          Paine, again not very good against quality slow bowlers. Neville uses his batting crease better when batting against spin and fast between the wickets.

          Why reluctant with Watson? with his recent performances, he is a must. His experience and success in India is a massive plus. Watson has always been a GUN in short form.

          • February 2nd 2016 @ 5:00pm
            Nudge said | February 2nd 2016 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

            Plus Watson was our best bowler in the recent 20/20’s

        • Roar Guru

          February 3rd 2016 @ 12:23pm
          Chris Kettlewell said | February 3rd 2016 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

          The only question for Mitch Marsh is whether he’s both batting and bowling better than Faulkner and squeezes him out. Faulkner is currently living on past reputation with his recent form really poor with both bat and ball. I suspect he’ll be picked, but unless he can turn things around quickly he’ll become a real liability.

    • February 2nd 2016 @ 6:35am
      JoC said | February 2nd 2016 @ 6:35am | ! Report

      We also need to look at our bowling.
      It lacked any penetration all short form summer.
      Chasing 198, you’d be licking your chops when Tait leaks 24 in the 2nd over.

      • February 2nd 2016 @ 11:33am
        Jameswm said | February 2nd 2016 @ 11:33am | ! Report

        It doesn’t help when the best white ball quick in the world is injured, and our 2nd best white ball quick (Cummins) is also injured.

    • February 2nd 2016 @ 6:39am
      Mike from tari said | February 2nd 2016 @ 6:39am | ! Report

      A couple of decent spinners would be good, but Smith should be Captain, he has a very good cricket brain & will Starc be fit.

      • Columnist

        February 2nd 2016 @ 8:36am
        Brett McKay said | February 2nd 2016 @ 8:36am | ! Report

        I don’t believe he will be Mike – he all but ruled himself out just after New Year, and I don’t think there’s been any change since then..

        (see: http://www.cricket.com.au/news/mitchell-starc-world-t20-unlikely-ankle-injury-update/2016-01-06)

      • Roar Guru

        February 3rd 2016 @ 12:24pm
        Chris Kettlewell said | February 3rd 2016 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

        I’ve always thought it a bit weird that Finch remained T20 captain after Clarke retired and handed the reigns to Smith. While Clarke was captain and not playing T20’s, you had to have someone else to captain the T20 side. But with Smith a lock in all three formats I would think he should also be captian in all three formats.

    • February 2nd 2016 @ 7:19am
      Dan said | February 2nd 2016 @ 7:19am | ! Report

      They really should’ve given Handscomb a run by now. They can not possibly take Wade to India!


      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

      • Columnist

        February 2nd 2016 @ 8:37am
        Brett McKay said | February 2nd 2016 @ 8:37am | ! Report

        This is my fear too, Dan..

        • February 2nd 2016 @ 8:56pm
          Don Freo said | February 2nd 2016 @ 8:56pm | ! Report

          But Handscomb’s glovework is worse than Wade’s.

          Handscomb can only be considered as a batsman…and you wouldn’t.

      • Roar Guru

        February 3rd 2016 @ 12:32pm
        Chris Kettlewell said | February 3rd 2016 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

        They definitely need to take a keeper who is good with the gloves up to the stumps with the ball spinning everywhere. The Bancroft experiment showed that with a bad missed stumping to a player on 6 who went on to bat his team to victory with a strike rate of almost 200 pretty much costing Australia the match.

        Better off going for a slightly lesser batsman if required to have someone who is good enough with the gloves. Not sure who that is. I can’t comment either way on Handscomb’s glovework against spin.

        I really don’t get why they persist with Wade in T20’s at all though. Not only is his glovework not good enough, but he isn’t that good a T20 batsman. In T20 internationals he averages 20 with a strike rate of only 115. And his domestic T20 record is barely any better.

    • February 2nd 2016 @ 7:45am
      IndianCricketFan said | February 2nd 2016 @ 7:45am | ! Report

      I would like to see Australia play 2 spinners in the WC. I hope to watch the India and Australia match at the WC, don’t want it to be one-sided which on current form seems a real possibility.
      It will be very strange to watch Marsh,Maxi and Bailey play in Mohali considering the support they get everytime they come for the IPL in Kings XI Punjab colours.
      I’d play Marsh over Khwaja. Marsh has had a lot of experience playing in India and knows the conditions well. He also has an admirable record against spinners. But then again its unfashionable to speaking against Khwaja these days!

      • February 2nd 2016 @ 7:51am
        Anwar said | February 2nd 2016 @ 7:51am | ! Report

        Mate Khawaja did very well in the shorter format for Aus A in India about 6 months back and is playing spin a lot better then most players around not to mention his 175 average in the BBL, so include both marsh and Khawaja in the squad but Khawaja shoukd okay in the top 6 either at opener ir at 3.

      • Roar Rookie

        February 2nd 2016 @ 8:08am
        Tana Mir said | February 2nd 2016 @ 8:08am | ! Report

        Me thinks there are other reasons not having khawaja in your line up.

        • February 2nd 2016 @ 8:21am
          IndianCricketFan said | February 2nd 2016 @ 8:21am | ! Report

          Ah what? Why would you think that?

          • February 2nd 2016 @ 9:27am
            Andrew said | February 2nd 2016 @ 9:27am | ! Report

            Khawaja deserves to be there, let’s talk about other spots such as who our spinner will be

            • February 3rd 2016 @ 2:57am
              IndianCricketFan said | February 3rd 2016 @ 2:57am | ! Report

              I’d say that’s a simple one. Boyce and Zampa should play. Maxi can bowl as well.
              Unfortunately Lyon drops out of the team.

        • Roar Guru

          February 3rd 2016 @ 12:38pm
          Chris Kettlewell said | February 3rd 2016 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

          Do those reasons include not having a surname of Marsh and not being from Western Australia?

          Khawaja certainly has more upside than Marsh. Some people comment about him not being the greatest fielder, but compared to Shaun Marsh, Khawaja is probably the better fielder of the two. So while he’d lose out on that count to many others, S.Marsh isn’t one of them.

          I’d certainly rather have Khawaja batting in the power play than Shaun Marsh. Marsh is well known for having a really low strike rate during the power play and taking a lot longer to get going. Khawaja, on the other hand, has been brilliant during the power play this season.

          • February 3rd 2016 @ 12:42pm
            Don Freo said | February 3rd 2016 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

            Shaun Marsh is an excellent fieldsman. Steve Smith has dropped sitters too.

            Marsh is fast, wonderful in the outfield, very safe in slips and has a bullet arm. Maybe you are looking at Dan Marsh, Chris.

          • February 3rd 2016 @ 1:53pm
            Amith said | February 3rd 2016 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

            You are right, khawaja is much better fielder then marsh and scores much quicker too, good points Chris

      • Columnist

        February 2nd 2016 @ 8:45am
        Brett McKay said | February 2nd 2016 @ 8:45am | ! Report

        A fortnight ago ICF, I’d probably have agreed with your Marsh over Khawaja pick, but since then Khawaja’s form has carried on while Marsh’s has dipped somewhat.

        And though Marsh’s IPL record is very good – 2000+ runs at 42 – his last few seasons over there haven’t quite been so productive. His last two IPLs, for eg, he only played 2 and 4 games for 151 runs at 30..

        • February 2nd 2016 @ 9:14am
          Amith said | February 2nd 2016 @ 9:14am | ! Report

          Really good points brett, marsh is good but khawaja has been in better form, i wouldn’t be against taking marsh in the squad but khawaja deserves a spot ahead of him in the final 11. Whats your view on Lynn and head, i don’t think both would go but would you go for Lynn as backup in the squad

          • Columnist

            February 2nd 2016 @ 9:21am
            Brett McKay said | February 2nd 2016 @ 9:21am | ! Report

            Did you read the article?

            • February 2nd 2016 @ 9:38am
              Amith said | February 2nd 2016 @ 9:38am | ! Report

              Yes just read your thinking on it, thanks, like you i agree head has a good future but best to leave him for the squad and he will be great for us in the future

        • February 2nd 2016 @ 3:09pm
          IndianCricketFan said | February 2nd 2016 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

          I think Australia need an opener who can bat through the innings and gives the other big hitters a chance to play their natural game. Khwaja is in amazing form but he is very inexperienced in the Indian conditions. The bowling attack that he encountered in the A-team tour was an experimental one. It is not going to be the same at all.
          It’s very unfair on Marsh that 2 bad performances will lead to his drop and make his past achievements void. I still believe Marsh will play in the team and Khwaja will be his back up.

        • February 2nd 2016 @ 7:11pm
          Dog's Breakfast said | February 2nd 2016 @ 7:11pm | ! Report

          Not only that. Did you see Marsh’s International T20 statistics? Averages just over 18 at a strike-rate of just 102. I was surprised to see that given they talk of him as one of the best T20 bats in the WORLD.

          His shot selection was poor in this recent series against India.

          We have plenty of better openers in Finch, Warner and Khawaja and you can’t start him in the middle order. He takes too long to get going and can’t run between wickets.

          Leave him at home. Take Khawaja.

          • February 3rd 2016 @ 3:00am
            IndianCricketFan said | February 3rd 2016 @ 3:00am | ! Report

            Look it’s been established pretty well that Australia don’t play too many T20 matches, so understandably the statistics of most of their players will be average or below average.
            Marsh has been brilliant in the IPL against spin bowlers and Khawaja was all over the place while facing Indian spinners in the A tour. And spinners will be the used plenty in the WC and definitely against Australia!

            • Roar Guru

              February 3rd 2016 @ 12:41pm
              Chris Kettlewell said | February 3rd 2016 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

              The thing is that Marsh did really well in the IPL in the first couple of seasons, but not so much recently. T20 has really evolved in that time, with bowlers and batsmen continually trying new things to get one over on each other, and I just wonder if he may have been good the way T20 used to be played, but hasn’t been able to keep up.

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