A talking point that often comes up regarding the state of cricket is the balance between bat and ball.
Australia’s T20 side is in hot form ahead of this year’s World Cup, with the return of Steve Smith and David Warner adding to the side’s tactical nous.
Steve Smith and David Warner’s return to Australia’s national T20 fold is providing more than just runs, with captain-in-waiting Alex Carey among the players benefiting from an embarrassment of riches on the leadership front.
Australia’s short-format transformation continued in Johannesburg as hat-trick man Ashton Agar inspired a 107-run embarrassment of South Africa.
While the weakened Proteas continue to battle under newly-appointed skipper Quinton de Kock, Australia have built stability in their T20 and ODI sides through the leadership of Aaron Finch and his deputies Carey and Pat Cummins.
The return of Smith and Warner, boasting a combined 465 international and domestic T20 caps, has only helped the development of younger players such as Carey, who has long been viewed as a future national captain.
“I’m trying to learn as much as I can from those guys,” Carey said ahead of Game 2 of the three-match series in Port Elizabeth on Sunday night.
“They’ve played so much cricket at the highest level and have done so well and captained their country and captained IPL teams.
“I talk to them when I’m batting, talk to them out on the field, after the game. There are no better guys to learn off than those three.”
Plenty of credit for Australia’s recent T20 form has gone to coach Justin Langer, who led the Perth Scorchers to three BBL titles and has looked to establish more clearly-defined roles within the national team.
But the captaincy of Finch, widely regarded as a tactical mastermind, has also been pivotal.
“Seeing his aggression with his fields, having a bat-pad in there in Twenty20 cricket…he’s not afraid of trying different things,” Carey said.
“He’s leading with the bat, he’s smacked the ball around in T20 cricket in the last couple of years.
“His tactical mind is getting better every time he plays for Australia.”
Australia’s road to hosting the T20 World Cup in October also includes tours of New Zealand next month and England in July.
One question that remains unresolved is who will fill the middle-order batting positions, with Matthew Wade and Mitch Marsh recalled to bat at No.4 and No.5 respectively and Glenn Maxwell to return from injury later in the year.
Carey, who combined with Marsh for a 50-run partnership at the Wanderers, recently batted up the order for the Adelaide Strikers in the BBL but is keen to seize his opportunity at No.6.
He said the side’s performance on the road in a year dominated by white-ball cricket would reveal how far they’d come.
“We’ve got enough opportunities moving forward to see where we’re really at,” he said.
“But at the moment, what we’re doing off the field is really helping in the middle.”