Australia were set to host their first-ever T20 World Cup in October and November of 2020.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the IPL being moved, it was postponed a year. The tournament will now take place in late 2021 in India, with Australia hosting the following tournament.
It is a tournament which, in its short history, Australia has not had much success in. In six tournaments since the first edition in 2007, Australia only has one finals appearance in 2010 to show for it. As the current second-best T20 team in the world, the Aussies will be hopeful of bringing home the trophy. If they are to do so, here is the line-up that they should consider using.
Remember to consider that the tournament is being held in India, with subontinent pitches that turn heavily. Therefore, the value of spinners and good batters of spin takes priority.
Openers: David Warner and Matthew Wade
The first spot here is quite self-explanatory. Ever since David Warner burst onto the international scene in 2009, he has been an incredible batsman of all three formats. He has been dynamic in T20 cricket for Australia, and his reputation has been enhanced as he is one of the greatest IPL players of all time. He will get some valuable experience playing in India in April when he opens the batting for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The second spot was tricky to pick, but I have decided that as it stands right now, Wade should open the batting ahead of Aaron Finch. Finch is fresh off of a dreadful IPL, and an even worse Big Bash with the Renegades. In addition to this, Wade is a much better player of spin than Finch. His use of the feet coming down the track makes him such a dangerous player of spin.
Wade looked sharp for the Hurricanes in his return from Test duty, and before that hit two half-centuries in the T20s against India. Unless Finch gets back to solid form before the tournament, Wade should have this spot. Another name who could be considered here is D’Arcy Short.
3 and 4: Josh Phillipe and Steven Smith
While Josh Phillipe has still yet to make his Australia debut, he should be heavily considered to be in the line-up in India later this year. He was awarded Big Bash player of the tournament for the champion Sydney Sixers, scoring over 500 runs.
The two most important factors, however, are that he will be playing in the upcoming IPL and he is a terrific player of spin. April’s IPL should give Phillipe plenty of experience playing on Indian surfaces. A notable part of Phillipe’s Big Bash this year is the difference in his strike rates facing spin and pace.
His strike rate against fast bowlers hovers just around the 120 mark, but this jumps up to 180 against spin. His ability to play the slog sweep will prove valuable in the subcontinent.
Test star Steve Smith does get the nod at number four, due to his recent great white-ball form.
He smashed two one-day hundreds in 62 balls against India in December and most recently punished Victoria for 127 in the Marsh Cup. Smith finds himself playing for the Dehli Capitals in this years IPL, where he will improve his ability to face spin.
Alex Carey is an alternative here, as he has proven in the Big Bash that he is a better T20 player higher up the order.
5 and 6: Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell
These are two of the locked positions in the Australian T20 squad. The two Melbourne Stars all-rounders are powerful late-inning hitters, and also provide an element of versatility with their bowling. Maxwell in particular is both a great player of spin and a reliable spin bowler.
Both players will star for their respective IPL franchises, and it will be important for both to get experience on Indian pitches, especially Stoinis with the ball. A possible alternative for these players would be Moises Henriques and Mitchell Marsh, both of whom will also play in the IPL.
7 and 8: Jhye Richardson and Ashton Agar
The number seven slot here is a complete toss-up between a number of players. It all depends on what type of route the coach wants to go down, but I\’m favouring Jhye Richardson. He has been out of the Australian set up for a while due to his shoulder injury, but after his incredible Big Bash he should be right back in contention. Combine that with the fact that he will be the star fast bowler on an IPL team and that he has improved his batting, and Richardson gets the edge over Daniel Sams for me here.
Alongside Sams, Dan Christian and Kane Richardson also get strong consideration for this spot. Christian’s time in the Aussie set up seems to be done, unfortunately, and Jhye is favoured over Kane due to his better batting.
The next slot goes to the Aussie T20 player of the year, Ashton Agar. He has been in terrific white-ball form as of late, with an economy rate of under 7 for his career in the shorter format. The left-arm spinner should flourish in India.
9, 10 and 11: Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa
The last three spots in the team go to arguably Australia’s three strongest white-ball bowlers. Cummins and Zampa remain one of the best in the world in their positions, and the fact that they will get Indian experience in the IPL makes them undroppable for the World Cup. Mitchell Swepson could have made a strong case for himself, but no New Zealand tour or IPL means it is unlikely.
Starc’s place, on the other hand, is most certainly at risk.
He is in a period of rough form with the ball, coming off a disappointing Test series against India. His white-ball pedigree should still see him retain his place in the team. However, if he does not start the tournament well, Kane Richardson, Jason Behrendorff, Josh Hazlewood or even Riley Meredith could take his place in the side.
Even Swepson could take this place if Australia opt for a third spinner.