Aaron Finch (left) and David Warner form a fearsome opening combination at the top © AFP
Australia head into the ICC World T20 2014 with a series of wins over strong opponents; this winning momentum is the biggest strength as well as a differentiating factor from the other contenders. Devarchit Varma has more…
Australia have never won a World T20 tournament. In fact, it is the only trophy missing from their cabinet. Coming off from string of series wins against opponents that were not only ranked higher than them, but also had the potential to derail the rejuvenating side, Australia have proved that they have finally found the mojo and are back to the winning ways. Talking about the Twenty20 format, wherein the Australians haven’t had much success, they now will be fancying their chances to create history by achieving the glory.
Twenty20 cricket is totally unpredictable, and there are no clear favourites. The slam-bang version of the game provides every competing side an equal shot to the fame. Australia, with their balanced side and the form of their players have a good chance to make it big this time around.
Even though Mitchell Johnson was ruled out of the tournament due to a toe injury, the George Bailey-led Australia have enough firepower to make most of the opportunity and not let the absence of their menacing pacer affect their chances in the tournament. Under Bailey’s leadership, Australia have won both their T20 series against England and South Africa in an impressive manner and they pose a grave threat to the other sides in the tournament.
The presence of all-rounders such as Shane Watson, James Faulkner, Glenn Maxwell, Cameron White and Nathan Coulter-Nile provides Australia to play around with their team combination, and this could be another differentiating factor for them.
But before anything else, taking a look at the batting firepower is critical as big totals on the board will be the key to success for all sides in the tournaments, as the pitches in Bangladesh are expected to be flat and of less assistance to the bowlers. Aaron Finch and David Warner form a fearsome opening combination at the top, which is likely to be followed by Watson, Bailey, Brad Hodge, Maxwell, and Brad Haddin. While the likes of Watson, Bailey and Maxwell have the knack of going for their shots, the presence of Hodge can be beneficial when they are in trouble and need someone to drop the anchor and rebuild the innings.
Faulkner could prove to be Australia’s master card in the tournament. The 24-year-old’s career graph has been on the rise since past one year, and his exploits in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the Rajasthan Royals help him strengthen his claim for a position in the playing eleven. Watson’s form too is crucial for Australia as the seasoned campaigner, who won the Player of the Tournament award in the 2012 edition held in Sri Lanka, is well-versed with the subcontinent conditions having spent a lot of time playing for the Rajasthan Royals.
However, the spin department could prove to be Australia’s Achilles Heel in the tournament as they do not have much firepower in their ranks. The spinners will play a key role on the flat decks of Bangladesh and Australia may be found wanting in this department. One may argue that Brad Hogg is capable to handle the role of lone spinner in their side, but lack of international cricket is one factor that hampers many players and even teams. James Muirhead is the second specialist spinner in their squad, but the 20-year-old Victorian spinner hasn’t played much international as well as domestic cricket, which could help him push his case ahead. The part-time spin of Maxwell and Finch may come in handy, though.
Mitchell Starc and Doug Bollinger in most likelihood will share the new ball. Starc has shown excellent form in the T20s against South Africa, and Bollinger will be eager to make a mark after finally getting an opportunity to break into the side.
Bailey would certainly want to prove a point by winning the tournament after the selectors bestowed the responsibility of taking Australian cricket ahead in the T20s. He is a cool customer with immense calmness and patience, and combined with attacking batting Bailey adds more to Australia’s strength.
Australia’s recent surge in international cricket has propelled them to a position from where they can achieve greater heights, and Bailey-led side has a perfect opportunity to keep the momentum going.
Australia squad for ICC World T20 2014:
George Bailey (c), Daniel Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Doug Bollinger, Glenn Maxwell, James Muirhead, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White.
ICC World T20 2014 schedule: Match time table with venue details
ICC World T20 2014 Points Table and Team Standings
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)