The Australian World T20 squad was reasonably easy enough to pick even before the official announcement. The only inclusion that was surprising is that of Glenn Maxwell, as I did assume Steven Smith would once again be selected as a specialist fielder. Maxwell’s inclusion is also surprising mostly because he is uncapped at international level and the only indication, which I must state is positive, is that he had a good season for Victoria and has played well in the Friends Life T20 tournament in England, for Hampshire, to put himself on the map.
Brad Hogg’s inclusion adds some fun to the mix but it must be said that he has zero shortage in terms of energy. Performance wise he can still take wickets and having him in the side for sub-continent conditions will prove to be important. Xavier Doherty had a forgettable tour to England but on tracks that will better suit spin bowlers – even in a more aggressive form of cricket – he should have a better opportunity.
I was a bit disappointed there was no room for guys like Aaron Finch and Mitchell Marsh and Phillip Hughes as they could have nestled into the team as well suited players for the Twenty20 format.
Hughes is currently redeeming his form and has scored 402 runs at 100.50 in 8 matches for Worcestershire in the Friends Life T20 tournament.
An exciting inclusion that has been based on performance, as it should be, is that of Cameron White.
White has finally regained his confidence and connected with his natural instinct which seemed to get lost when the tags such as “responsibility” and “patience” came into his role during a short lived stint at number three for the Australian ODI squad.
The 2012 World Cup – where he batted in the mid to lower order – was the nail in coffin and it was clear that there was a lack of certainty in White’s approach. Without confidence and self-belief comes a lack of trust in ones natural game and technique. It has taken him a while but he’s finally come right and I would like to believe White is back to his best for big performances in Twenty20 cricket. He has managed 228 runs at 57.00 for Northamptonshire following an excellent IPL campaign.
The balance in the squad is alright. The key will be how the strategy is delivered in the batting line-up. The power hitting rests in Shane Watson, David Warner, Michael Hussey (see video below), Cameron White and David Hussey. There is aggression within the likes of Matthew Wade and Glenn Maxwell, which certainly gives enough indication on paper that we have a threatening batting line-up, but far too often the group has fired collectively, making it a dull display.
All of these names stack up for a batting line-up that could take on any bowling unit but the input of spin bowling will hassle a few players like David Hussey and Matthew Wade who have had their struggles. It’s important to acknowledge though that these guys can also change a match in one over if their approach to attack pays off.
The bowling is where we’ll be tested and for this reason it is essential that our batsmen stack up the runs with any given opportunity and with the depth on offer there is no reason why they shouldn’t. About time our bowlers had some suppport with runs to defend.
Ben Hilfenhaus and Clint McKay are the experienced campaigners, but there is the risk that McKay may not be fit for the series due to a hamstring injury which has ruled him out of our upcoming UAE limited overs tour.
Mitchell Starc is no push over in Twenty20 cricket and if he just gets his line right I am certain he can provide valuable support to his bowling partners. His ability to swing the ball, along with that of Hilfenhaus, will be of utmost importance should he handle new ball duties.
As enthusiastic as I am about his development, Patrick Cummins may be a bowler to keep an eye on for the future but injury seems to be an apparent concern. His raw pace is an X-factor for a squad that is now without Brett Lee. We need a bowler who can deliver express pace without the likes of Shaun Tait, Doug Bollinger and Mitchell Johnson. Patrick would be an obvious inclusion if we’re looking for a pace option.
The all-rounders do help to add variation to the bowling options that captain George Bailey will have on offer. Dan Christian has found his way back into the side and his hat-trick is still fresh in my mind. He’s certainly not my pick as a death bowler of choice – the IPL further proved this – but he can mix it up with both the bat and ball to add a valuable dynamic to any side. Fortunately, there’s also David Hussey who can send down overs of spin bowling in really quick succession, while Glenn Maxwell can also throw his arm over.
All in all, there is depth in this side and sufficient variation on offer, which helps tremedously in a form of the game where a lack of variation and too much predictability can be a nail in the coffin!
I am not overly confident about our chances in taking the title this year (we were runners-up last tournament) but it would be foolish to dismiss our chance altogether. The lack of expectation also comes from the obvious fact we have not had any type of consistency in Twenty20 cricket and our ranking isn’t exactly one for the punters to gamble on.
However, a side with names like Warner, Watson, the Hussey brothers and White, any side that takes on the green and gold boys will be well aware that they will have no chance to drop the intensity, which does get the better of our boys sometimes.
Irrespective, it’s a new event and a fresh squad and the rehearsal is just a week away.
Australian ICC World T20 Squad:
David Warner, Shane Watson, Matthew Wade (wk), David Hussey, Michael Hussey, George Bailey (captain), Cameron White, Daniel Christian, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Hogg, Xavier Doherty, Clint McKay, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Ben Hilfenhaus.