After a thrilling Group Stage that saw double hat tricks, huge upsets and two debutants battling valiantly, we’re into the real meat of the T20 World Cup tournament and there are some great games to keep your eyes on.
Australia’s capitulation against the visiting South Africans at the Perth Stadium might be a disappointment to lots of fans, but this has been the norm for the team down under for over a year now.
Since January 2017, the Australian ODI team has played 26 games, winning just six and losing 18. Most of the games during that time were with Steven Smith and David Warner in the XI.
Since the world cup win the Australian team has gone through a lot of changes in the XI and have failed to form a core of ODI players during that time. Except for Steven Smith, David Warner and Aaron Finch, the rest of the batting has been like musical chairs.
The biggest problem for the Australian team has been the batting. Even though some of the top order batters have been consistently scoring runs, the team as a unit has failed to click. There have been a total of 20 different players who have played in the Australian top six since January 2017.
The lack of consistency in selections and clarity in thought process is what has caused a complete lack of confidence in the Australia ODI team.
The team constantly changing and players getting dropped after a couple of failures can only be detrimental to the progress of the team. Players like CL White, Alex Carey, DJ Short and Peter Handscomb have received few games during that time but haven’t been consistent fixtures in the XI.
Despite having a good and consistent top order during that time, the constant chopping and changing in the middle and lower order has been one of the prime reasons for poor performances over the last year or so.
Aaron Finch, who has been named the captain of the ODI team, needs to work out what combination he needs to take this team forward. This is not only crucial for the World Cup 2019 but also beyond the tournament as well. As a team preparing for the World Cup, they need to at least have a core of players whom they feel comfortable picking from over the next few months and at this point, I don’t think Australia has anything of that sort figured out.
Even though the return of David Warner and Steven Smith will resolve a few of the top order problems, the middle and lower order is still a concern.
The Australian batting has lacked confidence over the past couple of years and new team management need to instil that back if they want to challenge and post a strong defence of their title. Aaron Finch has taken over a team which has been performing poorly over the last couple of years and 2018 has been even worse for the team with only one win in 11 games.
This is a chance for Finch to stand up as the leader and to build a team which can get Australia back to the glory days. It is not going to be easy to turn around this scenario, but again, with strong leadership and help from the team management, the changes can happen.