Australia should be a dominant T20 team

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

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    Australian superstars David Warner and Steve Smith are dominating in the Indian Premier League along with lesser lights Andrew Tye, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Moises Henriques.

    Season after season Australian imports shine in the world’s strongest T20 league, yet the national T20 side continues to be a rabble.

    No other country, bar the hosts, has had such a resounding impact on the IPL since it started in 2008. In its nine completed seasons, four times Australians have won the Player of the Tournament award – Shane Watson (2008 and 2013), Glenn Maxwell (2014) and Adam Gilchrist (2009).

    To put that in perspective, only twice has that award been won by an Indian player. Meanwhile, an Australian has been the leading runscorer in the IPL season four times – Shaun Marsh (2008), Matthew Hayden (2009), Mike Hussey (2013) and Warner (2015).

    Warner, one of the greatest players in IPL history, was also the second-highest runscorer in 2016 with an extraordinary 848 runs at 61. This season he is the leading batsman in the competition with 459 runs at 66 (strike rate 151) including an incredible 126 from 59 balls for Sunrisers Hyderabad against Kolkata on Sunday.

    In that ballistic knock he brought up his 50 from just 20 balls. Australians have made all three of the fastest 50s scored this IPL season, with Warner joined by Chris Lynn and Aaron Finch in that list.

    As further evidence of the lofty standing Australians hold in the IPL, the only three foreign captains in the competition all are from down under – Warner (Hyderabad), Smith (Pune) and Maxwell (Punjab).

    Smith and Maxwell both are having fantastic seasons. The former is in the top five runscorers with 323 runs at 53 (strike rate 136). Maxwell, meanwhile, has comfortably the best strike rate (179) among the top 30 runmakers in the competition, amid a haul of 193 runs at 32. He has underbowled himself but has been very effective when he has taken the ball, conceding a miserly 6.6 runs per over while taking 3-66 from 10 overs.


    There have been plenty of other Australians who have had much bigger roles with the ball and proven very effective. Perth Scorchers paceman Tye was one of the revelations of the tournament before dislocating his shoulder on Saturday, an injury which will see him take no further part in the IPL.

    Despite playing only six games he is third on the wicket-taking table with 12 wickets at an amazing average of 12. What makes Tye’s efforts even more impressive is that he has given up just 6.71 runs per over, the second-best economy rate among the top 15 wicket takers.

    Just like Tye, Coulter-Nile has had a huge impact in a small amount of time, taking 11 wickets from just five matches at an average of 14. Another Aussie has been among the best fast bowlers in this IPL, with Pat Cummins snaring nine wickets at 21.

    Cummins has proven difficult for batsmen to get after, with his economy rate of 7.41 the third-best of any quick in the competition’s top 25 wicket takers.

    Henriques, meanwhile, is continuing his blazing form in all three formats over the past year, with the finest IPL season of his career. The NSW all-rounder has smashed 200 runs at an average of 67 (strike rate 141) and is pushing his claims to make Australia’s starting XI for the upcoming Champions Trophy ODI tournament.

    Blues Moises Henriques celebrates after taking a wicket

    All of this success by Australian players would lead the casual observer to believe Australia must be one of the dominant Twenty20teams. Instead they’ve been perennial underperformers since first playing the format more than 12 years ago.

    Australia have an ordinary 47-43 win-loss record in the history of T20Is. Their results have been even worse over the past two years, with an abysmal 7-9 win-loss record, including a poor showing at last year’s World T20, in which they failed to make the semi-finals.

    Too often Australia have picked experimental Twenty20teams during bi-lateral series. They have shown the format no respect by regularly parachuting random players into the XI or scheduling Twenty20series at times which clashed with Test or ODI series.

    Then they’ve rushed to take T20Is seriously again when the World T20 comes along only to, not surprisingly, underwhelm once more. The IPL undoubtedly has made some nations stronger in the shorter format, with the West Indies being the prime example.

    England finally have allowed their players to take part in the competition with an eye to improving as a limited overs nation. Australia, meanwhile, are yet to reap the benefits of exposing their leading players to the IPL.

    That, however, is their own fault. If they placed greater priority on the shortest format they would quickly become an elite Twenty20team.

    This Australian Twenty20squad would have easily enough talent to win a World T20
    1. David Warner (vc)
    2. Aaron Finch
    3. Chris Lynn
    4. Steve Smith (c)
    5. Glenn Maxwell
    6. Ben Dunk (wk)
    7. Mitch Marsh
    8. James Faulkner
    9. Mitchell Starc
    10. Pat Cummins
    11. Adam Zampa

    12. Shaun Marsh
    13. Nathan Coulter-Nile
    14. Travis Head
    15. Michael Beer

    Top ten Australian players in the IPL this season:
    1. David Warner – 459 runs at 66 (strike rate 151) from nine matches.
    2. Andrew Tye – 12 wickets at 12 (economy rate 6.71) from six matches.
    3. Nathan Coulter-Nile – 11 wickets at 14 (economy rate 8.29) from five matches.
    4. Steve Smith – 320 runs at 53 (strike rate 136) from eight matches.
    5. Moises Henriques – 200 runs at 67 (strike rate 141) from eight matches.
    6. Glenn Maxwell – 193 runs at 32 (strike rate 179) plus three wickets at 22 from nine matches.
    7. Pat Cummins – nine wickets at 21 (economy rate 7.41) from seven matches.
    8. Chris Lynn – 125 runs at 125 (strike rate 193) from two matches.
    9. Shaun Marsh – 140 runs at 47 (strike rate 147) from four matches.
    10. Aaron Finch – 186 runs at 27 (strike rate 168) from eight matches.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco