Having returned Australia to the top of the world Test rankings, skipper Steve Smith says he has two items left on his bucket list – win the Twenty20 World Cup and an Ashes on English soil.
The Australians on Sunday flew out for South Africa where they will play three warm-up games in the lead-up to next month’s T20 World Cup in India.
The trophy has proved elusive for the Australians over the first five editions of the tournament, going close in the West Indies in 2010 but falling to England in the final.
It is the only major piece of silverware not to be housed at Cricket Australia headquarters and a determined Smith says the quest to win the title is a thorn in his side.
Since Smith took over the captaincy following last year’s Ashes loss, the national side has experienced a resurgence.
After running rampant over the West Indies and New Zealand over the summer, they this week regained the number one Test ranking for the first time in 18 months.
And while they will go into the tournament on the sub-continent as outsiders, Smith says the confidence they have built up over the last few months – despite losing two recent T20 matches to India – is driving their charge.
“It’s one that’s eluded us,” Smith said at Sydney airport on Sunday.
“It’s going to be a tough tour in India, in conditions that are foreign to us.
“But I think we’ve got the squad to give it a real shake.
“From my point of view there’s (the World T20) and the away Ashes that needs to be ticked off.”
No problems with injuries ahead of first T20
Smith said he expected injured quartet Nathan Coulter-Nile (shoulder), Shane Watson (abdominal strain), Aaron Finch (hamstring) and James Faulkner (hamstring) to be fit for Friday’s first T20 against the Proteas with spots on the line ahead of the World Cup.
Of particular interest is the top of the order with Watson, Finch and Usman Khawaja
jostling for positions in the top four alongside Smith and vice-captain David Warner.
Smith said the side still had not settled on their best 11 for the World Cup and expected that to be become clearer following their series with South Africa.
“I’m not sure of the make up of our top three or four yet, there’s a lot guys who can fill that position,” Smith said.
“We’ve got three games to look at that before the World Cup.
“We’ve got some very destructive and talented batters up the top of the order.”