Australia’s Winning Formula: Picking Steve Smith’s T20I Playing XI
This story, originally pubbed on March 11, 2016, has been republished on the occasion of Australia’s first game in the WT20, against New Zealand. Numbers have been updated to reflect the change in rankings since then.
It is a funny game cricket.
If you asked the average fan in the street where Australia was ranked in Test cricket, most would know they are number 1.
If you asked the average fan in the street who won the last ODI World Cup, most would know that it was Australia.
If you asked the average fan in the street where Australia was ranked in T20, how many would correctly say 5th?
They are ahead of England and Pakistan.
It’s a considerable step up from the last ICC World Twenty20, where Australia entered the tournament ranked 8th.
Can the squad the Aussies have assembled achieve much in this tournament?
Let’s have a crack at putting their best team together and make a judgment.
Australia’s greatest ever white ball player. Some may cringe at that statement, but they are the ones who are clouded by his red ball antics. In 5 overs, he can win the game with the bat. Adding his very handy bowling and fielding prowess makes Shane a powerful weapon.
He is currently ranked the world’s best batsman in international T20’s. Recently dropped from being captain, but one senses he will use this tournament to prove his doubters wrong.
Singlehandedly won the Sydney Thunder the latest Big Bash trophy. Made 4 tons in a row in all formats during the latest Australian summer. Not as explosive as those around him, but can bat time at a quick pace without taking too many risks.
The recent experiment of playing the world’s best Test opener at number 4 appears to have some merit. Essentially, it allows Australia the luxury of having Watson in the team, rather than have him compete for an all-rounders spot. The Australian Top 4 is extremely solid.
The guy who took over the captaincy from Aaron Finch. In the form of his life in Test and ODI cricket. Can he translate that to T20 cricket? He doesn’t even rank in the top 100 batsmen in the world according to the ICC.
Australia’s Shahid Afridi. Had an average summer but resurrected it somewhat in the latest South African T20 series. Will be asked to carry the burden as Australia’s main spinner. This is interesting, given he hardly bowled in the Big Bash.
Can hit the ball a mile. Has taken his bowling to a new level.
“The Finisher”. High left arm slower balls have a knack of taking wickets at crucial times. Has proven time and time again that he knows how to close out an innings.
Was recently introduced to the squad at the expense of Matthew Wade. Clearly, he’s a better gloveman but he lacks the power of the former keeper. Australia have chosen to play him down the order, minimising the impact of his lesser batting. However, his sharper glovework may be the difference in turning those half chances into wickets.
The only decent spinner named in the squad, but still young. Given it is a tour of India, Australia have missed a trick by not selecting Nathan Lyon. However, he does give the ball air and can turn it. May surprise some.
The only strike bowler that Australia have sent over. Showed during the summer that he is more than capable of carrying the attack given Mitchell Starc is out injured.
The team looks strong on paper, but I have strong doubts as to its ability to have a real impact on the tournament.
Australia’s preparation has been poor at best, and doubt lingers whether anybody has any idea what the best team actually looks like.
Coulter-Nile and John Hastings will most likely rotate in and out of the side for Mitch Marsh. Andrew Tye may play if the pitches look like giving assistance to the quicks. He has been a leading bowler in the Big Bash for a few seasons now.
Ashton Agar is unlikely to play a match.
I predict Australia to make the semi-finals at best.
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