The Roar
The Roar


Bizarre five-ball over burns Aussies, even Broad shocked by Starc axing, and Afghan gun's onslaught a BBL hint: Talking Points

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4th November, 2022

Is Australia’s T20 World Cup title defence alive? Mathematically, yes.

But the hosts’ fate is now officially out of their own hands, and their creaky, sporadic performance in a narrow defeat over an Afghanistan side they’d have confidently expected to beat by far more than the eventual four-run victory margin couldn’t have summed up their campaign any better.

There were flashes of brilliance – Glenn Maxwell’s dynamic 29-ball half-century and bullet throw to run out rampant Afghan Gulbadin Naib chief among them – but amidst it all was selection controversy, some inexplicable batting choices and plenty of mediocre bowling from supposedly one of the world’s best attacks.

Chief among the former was the omission of Mitchell Starc, who alongside injured duo Aaron Finch and Tim David, made it three changes for Australia at the Adelaide Oval.

The left-arm quick had been shifted away from his traditional new-ball role into the middle overs in recent matches, but his omission, confirmed as such shortly before the match, still caused a major stir, particularly after capturing a pair of wickets with ferocious inswinging yorkers against Ireland.

Former Australian captain – and Starc’s teammate during his Player of the Tournament run at the 2015 ODI World Cup – Michael Clarke led the chorus, describing the axing as ‘strange’ on commentary, especially given the Aussies’ need to restrict Afghanistan to as low a score as possible in order to move past England on net run rate.

“There’s absolutely no way you can leave him out of tonight’s game,” Clarke said.

Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade of Australia.

Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade of Australia. (Photo by Mark Brake-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)


“If anyone’s going to rip through Afghanistan’s batting it’s Mitchell Starc. Left-arm, if it swings with the new ball and then we’ve seen his yorkers at the death.

“I don’t get it.”

Clarke’s bemusement again reared during the innings break; with Australia needing to defend 8/168, the former captain said Starc would have been his ‘first bowler picked’.

“I still can’t believe it to be honest,” he said.

“I think we saw a bit of swing. I think Starc right now with the new ball swinging back into the right-handers would have been lethal.

“He’d have been my first bowler picked against this Afghanistan line-up… to me we’ve got a lot of the same-same here, [Josh] Hazlewood, [Marcus] Stoinis, [Cameron] Green. It’s all right-hand back of a length, hit the wicket hard.

“We’ve got to win this game and got to win by a lot. I just think that left-arm something different – it would have been exactly what we needed tonight.”


A slew of other former and present greats concurred, with Mark Waugh and Tom Moody, World Cup winners both, taking to Twitter to express their surprise.

However, the most surprising Starc advocate came from a long-time foe – current England Test quick Stuart Broad, who described the left-armer as a ‘beast’ in short-form cricket..

The bold move didn’t pay off, though: Richardson was clubbed for a ghastly 48 off his four overs, finishing with consecutive sixes off the bat of Afghanistan all-rounder Rashid Khan, to very nearly cost the hosts a win.


Rashid Khan do anything: Afghan gun’s brutal onslaught wows

Despite a patchy display, Australia seemed on track for a comfortable if fruitless win over Afghanistan when the visitors needed 49 runs from the final three overs, with just four wickets in hand.

Rashid Khan, though, had other ideas.

An Adelaide Strikers star in the BBL; Rashid was loudly cheered when walking out to bat with his side in dire straits; then, showing his full knowledge of the Adelaide Oval and an extraordinary array of shots, bludgeoned Aussie bowlers of all shapes and sizes to and over the pickets.

An incredible whipped half-pull cleared the mid-wicket rope comfortably off none other than Josh Hazlewood; his next shot, taking full advantage of a full ball to pump it straight down the ground, left Marcus Stoinis needing to defend 22 from the final over.

The Aussies would hold on, but it wasn’t without the mother of all fights from Rashid, hitting Stoinis for two fours and a glorious six over cow corner to reduce the margin to just four runs.

Finishing unbeaten on 48 off just 23 balls, the onslaught has prompted calls for the Afghan legspinner to be given more opportunities higher up the order for the Strikers this BBL season.


Former Aussie Test great Mark Waugh was among those, describing Rashid as a ‘seriously dangerous striker’, and suggesting the Strikers’ aren’t getting enough value out of him batting in the tail.

The curious case of the missing ball

If you thought the fourth over of Australia’s batting innings felt a little short… that’s because it was.

While appearing to never be disclosed by the ICC’s official tournament commentary feed, which it sells to both Channel 9 and Fox Cricket, it has been confirmed that Afghanistan’s Naveen-ul-Haq should have bowled an extra ball.

The ‘totally unacceptable’ miss, according to sports journalist Adam White, left plenty of Australian cricket fans incensed at the unfair disadvantage forced on the Aussies.


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However, Afghanistan could also feel slighted, given the bowler at the centre of the debate, quick Naveen-ul-Haq, was the pick of their bowlers in Adelaide, finishing with 3/21 from his four overs.