The lack of importance placed on T20 cricket at an international level has been highlighted over the last week, and I couldn’t agree more – it’s baffling. Heading into the upcoming T20 World Cup in India, are Australia any chance to even challenge?
The combination of current performances, puzzling selections and a lacklustre history in the tournament suggests the Australians are at odds to claim their first title, or even go close to it.
Add to that the concern of Australian batsmen’s ineptitude to spin – a problem magnified in the 2013 tour of India, 2014 tour of Pakistan and the most recent T20 matches at home against India.
The worst part? There is no excuse for this. There will be some talented T20 teams competing in this tournament, but there is no reason why Australia shouldn’t be right up there.
The Australians – who ironically place great importance and focus on their own domestic T20 competition – have a winning percentage of just 56 per cent in ICC World T20 matches, and have been bundled out embarrassingly on almost every occasion, despite a spirited effort in 2010 where they went down in the final to England. From that runner-up XI some six years ago, only four may feature in the green and gold again this time around.
With the amount of exposure so many Australian players get from the BBL and IPL, and given the extraordinary skills and performances fans are treated with on a nightly basis over the holiday period, surely Australia can piece together a dangerous squad? Surely we have the right balance of hard-hitting and reliable, dependent batsmen and attacking, economical bowlers. Yet the limited preparation so far would suggest the group is unsettled.
Arguably the best limited-overs fast bowler in the world, Mitchell Starc, remains on the sidelines, making Aaron Finch, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Steve Smith the only certainties.
The smaller, tighter Indian venues should suit too, and lots of the probable Australian players will have experience playing short-form cricket in Indian conditions.
Australian fans shouldn’t expect anything less than a semi-final appearance. But right now, there’s plenty of cause for concern.