As Australia’s depth gets tested in this hectic international schedule during a global pandemic, the Australian selectors will be looking to select their best possible squad to face a full-strength New Zealand for a five-match T20 series.
Using IPL, BBL and past T20I form, here’s the squad I’ve come up with.
Aaron Finch (captain): No question about it. Despite a poor IPL and BBL so far, Finch has been Australia’s greatest T20I opener of all time. In his last nine T20I innings, Finch has failed to pass 30 only twice.
Matthew Wade: Despite his poor showings in the Test series, Wade’s past form for the Hurricanes in the BBL and his last two T20I innings are too hard to ignore. Playing on the smaller grounds in New Zealand will give him some much needed batting confidence.
Alex Carey: I didn’t originally have Carey in the squad, but his BBL form is too good to ignore, especially after his century against the Brisbane Heat. This is probably his last shot to impress as a T20I cricketer.
Josh Philippe: Philippe is the leading run scorer of BBL10 and has been one of the big reasons why the Sixers have aced their way to the top of the table. Unless he suffers a massive dip in form, Philippe has to be playing in the first T20 against New Zealand in Christchurch.
Ben McDermott: McDermott is in the form of his life. While he hasn’t been able to translate his BBL success in the T20I arena yet, McDermott deserves another shot. If he doesn’t do well this series, then the Aussie selectors can cut him out and say he’s not T20I material. But McDermott deserves to play all five T20Is against New Zealand.
Marcus Stoinis: Stoinis’ exploits in the 2020 IPL proved that he can be an asset in the Australian T20 side in the middle order. Plus he’s bowling again, which makes him a great option for Australia in the middle order for the T20 series.
Mitchell Marsh: Whether it be with bat or ball, Mitch Marsh has had a great impact for the Perth Scorchers this BBL. He was in Australia’s white-ball squads in the tour of England so I don’t see any reason why Marsh gets omitted.
Glenn Maxwell: Australia’s number four in T20s. No question about it. Don’t mess with Maxwell’s batting position or else we’ll see some very inconsistent performances.
Daniel Sams: His batting form has been brilliant in the BBL, although Sams has been quite expensive with the ball. If Sams doesn’t perform with bat or ball in this series, his time as an Australian international T20 could be over.
Dan Christian: Among players who have over 100 BBL runs this season, Christian has the highest strike rate (191.57). Christian knows how to win franchise T20 tournaments and has done enough over the past few years to warrant a recall. In a young squad, T20 globetrotters such as Christian will be crucial.
Jason Behrendorff: With no Mitchell Starc, Behrendorff is his perfect replacement in the squad. With the Perth Scorchers seamer getting some cricket under his belt, now’s the right time to recall him into the T20 side so he can pick up wickets with the new ball.
Kane Richardson: He was in Australia’s white-ball squads on the tour of England and has a respectable T20I record. He has been the best bowler in an under-performing Renegades team and I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t tour New Zealand.
Andrew Tye: With a changed action, Tye has been more effective with the white ball. Although he has been expensive at times in the T20 international arena, I don’t see anyone else better than Tye to take his spot to tour NZ.
Nathan Coulter-Nile: Coulter-Nile has played only four BBL games since returning home from the IPL. But he’s been brilliant with the ball, averaging 9.77 at an economy of 6.36. Add his lower order hitting abilities and Coulter-Nile is a handy T20 cricketer to have in any side.
Wes Agar: I’ve never seen Wes Agar bowl this well in T20 cricket. Equal with Jhye Richardson on the wickets tally, Agar has nailed his yorkers well, especially in the power surge. It will be a great experience for him and he could get a game or two.
Adam Zampa: Australia’s greatest T20I spinner and the third highest wicket taker, you’d be a madman not to have Zampa in the Australian T20 team.
Steve O’Keefe: The man is in the form of his life in T20 cricket. Almost a whole decade has passed since O’Keefe has played T20 internationals for Australia, but his BBL form warrants selection.
Tanveer Sangha: In his short T20 career, Tanveer Sangha has dismissed Aaron Finch, Mohammad Nabi, Riley Rossouw, Joe Denly, Chris Lynn, Peter Handscomb, Colin Ingram, David Malan and Ben McDermott. While he’s nowhere near the finished product, Sangha’s BBL numbers should earn him a T20 call-up.
I’ve decided to omit Ashton Agar for one reason – a lack of cricket played recently. Having missed out on the T20 series versus India and this BBL to injury, Agar needs to play a few domestic games rather than be rushed back into international cricket.