Australia ICC World T20 2016 Preview
Australia has never won the ICC World Twenty20; this is a fact it will be hoping to change in 2016
13 March 2016 15:09
In a wide variety of conditions, over the years, Australia has done exceptionally well when it comes to global events, and have won five ICC Cricket World Cup titles, more than any other. Their confident, aggressive brand of cricket usually marks them out as title-challengers almost regardless of pre-tournament form.
In the ICC World Twenty20 2016, expect things to be no different. There is a versatility to Australia that will allow it to believe that it has the answers to any questions the opposition may pose. Coming to the event on the back of a Twenty20 International series win in South Africa on pitches that were on the slower side and afforded some turn and you have the perfect lead-in. All that remains is to hit the ground running and walk the talk.
History: Australia was the pre-eminent limited-overs team when Twenty20 cricket emerged and although it initially treated the format with curiosity, performance in ICC events was consistent. In the first edition of World T20, Australia made it to the semifinal, losing to India. The second edition, in England, was forgettable, with losses to Sri Lanka and Pakistan ending the campaign before it had begun.
In the West Indies, Australia more than made up, reaching the final with some rousing performances before being foiled by arch-rival England. In the subsequent edition, in Sri Lanka, it was a final-four spot again, West Indies being too good on the day. The most recent edition, in Bangladesh, was another disappointment with Australia winning only one game, against Bangladesh, and losing their three other first-round matches.
Group: Australia is in Group 2 alongside India, Pakistan, New Zealand and Group A Qualifier.
Captain: Steven Smith
Coach: Darren Lehmann
Preview: Of all formats, Australia has found Twenty20 Internationals the toughest to crack and dominate. In the 50-over game and in Test matches, Australia has shown that once it has a settled team, it is a force to reckon with whether playing home or away.
The World T20 2016 is a chance for Australia to set the record straight on two counts. Firstly, it can show that putting together a string of results in the shortest format is not beyond the team. Secondly, it can try and add the once piece of silverware missing from its otherwise full cabinet.
For Australia to do well, the performances of some of its power hitters is crucial. Aaron Finch is as experienced as they come in the format and David Warner can never be ruled out of a game. Shane Watson is merging bowling and batting well once more and Steven Smith has shown that once he gets going, he stays hungry for runs. Add to this the sheer audacity of Glenn Maxwell and you have a team with the potential to dismantle any bowling attack.
If Australia has one point of concern, it is the spin department. Adam Zampa, the legspinner, and Ashton Agar, the left-arm spinner, are both exciting young cricketers, but neither has a large body of work under their belts. Australia will hope that this can work as a bit of a surprise element, for winning in India without a contribution from specialist spinners might prove challenging.
Strengths: Australia boasts some of the most ideally suited batsmen to the shortest form of the game. From David Warner to Aaron Finch at the top of the order to Steven Smith in the middle and potent finishers such as James Faulkner, Australia should back itself to chase strongly in almost any conditions. It has strong fast bowling reserves with players who can make an impact even in subcontinent conditions.
Recent form: After a gap of 484 days, Australia won a Twenty20 International when it beat South Africa by five wickets at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on March 6, 2016. To build on this win, Australia took the final game of the three-match series and with that sealed a 2-1 win. The result should give it confidence, but there is no denying that the recent past has not been the kindest to Australia. Of its last 10 matches, Australia has won just four, losing six, including a 0-3 result against India in Australia.
Star Player: David Warner
While he is the original Twenty20 player turned Test and One-Day International player, David Warner has come a long way since he made his debut in the shortest format back in January 2009. Established in all formats, Warner has shown a great degree of adaptability and this allows the captain to use him in different positions as per the team’s requirement. When he gets going, Warner is unstoppable, and despite being explosive he does not suffer from a lack of consistency.
One to Watch: Adam Zampa
Australia have struggled to find an established spinner who has made a place in the team his own. The latest hopeful to try and get the job done is Adam Zampa and his legspin could have a crucial role in Indian conditions. Pitches are expected to be on the slower side and take turn, meaning that teams will struggle to get by with pace alone.
#That6 Hitter: David Warner
In front of the wicket and back, short or full, leg side or off, David Warner has the ability to hit the ball all the way. Not the tallest of men, Warner more than makes up with a combination of power and timing that makes him irresistible. Add to this a complete fearlessness when he is at the crease and you get a batsman who is prepared to attack the good balls and bad from the word go.
Shane Watson is Australia’s most successful batsman in World T20s, racking up 441 runs in 20 matches at a strike rate of nearly 140.
With Mitchell Johnson having called it a day, Watson tops the bowling charts as well, with 17 scalps. Watson’s economy of 8.23 may appear high, but for a non-specialist bowler, this is nothing to complain about.
Australia’s biggest wins in World T20s in terms of runs (81) and wickets (10) have both come against Sri Lanka. The two teams will not meet in the first round.
Australia has been semi-finalists twice and finalist once, but never won a World T20 title.
Key Match: India
By the time Australia come up against India, it would have played the rest of its Super10 matches. This means that if qualification is still on the line, the game could be a crucial one. If Australia has done well enough to make its position safe then the outcome of this match will decide which opponent it takes on in the first of the knockout matches.
What people are saying about them:
Traditionally we haven't done as well as we would have liked in this format of the game. This is a tournament that has eluded us so we are here to try and win it. We feel pretty settled, we have 15 guys who can give this tournament a pretty good shake.”- Steven Smith, Australia captain.
There's been a lot of talk about how we play spin and how the pitches will turn square. The wickets will be good in order to produce high scores and we're confident we have the game plan to counter whatever is thrown at us.– Darren Lehmann, Australia coach.
India and Australia are perennial favourites entering a world tournament. Australia will sorely miss the wicket-taking knack of Mitchell Starc, and they still need to prove they can play good spin bowling in India. Nevertheless, it has a power-laden batting line-up and plenty of quality allrounders.” – Ian Chappell, former Australia captain.
Pommie Mbangwa Prediction – Australia: Semi-final
Always a good side when it comes to tournaments. Though they have some game changers in their squad (David Warner, Steve Smith, Shane Watson), I feel that it is just not their turn this time and the other sides will be able to cope with and overcome them. They are one of the teams that just about everybody pencils into the top four.
Squad: Steven Smith (capt), David Warner (vice-capt), Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Nevill, Andrew Tye, Shane Watson, Adam Zampa.
Friday March 18: v New Zealand, HPCA Stadium, Dharamsala
Monday March 21: v Afghanistan, Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
Friday March 25: v Pakistan, PCA IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali
Sunday, March 27: v India, PCA IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali