Sport Cricket Australia will pay for poor selections at World T20

Australia will pay for poor selections at World T20

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Australia have plenty in their silverware cabinet – but they don’t have a World Twenty20 trophy.

And unless they think outside the square, they won’t win it in 2016 either.

So far in the tournament, which has been going for over a week, spinners have been taking the new ball in almost every match, risking big powerplay overs in the hope of early wickets.

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Nathan Lyon should be leading Australia’s attack in India, but he has been left at home to help New South Wales win the Sheffield Shield.

And while the Blues are grateful for that decision, it is difficult to fathom the thinking that sees Australia’s greatest off-spinner of all time not playing in conditions that are ideal for him.

Yes, all-rounder Glenn Maxwell can score quickly, sometimes, and his bowling should be useful in this competition.

Australia's best spinner is playing a Sheffield Shield game in Alice Springs. Photo: Getty
Australia’s best spinner is playing a Sheffield Shield game in Alice Springs. Photo: Getty

But Australia should be bowling at least 12 overs of spin in each match.

Twenty20 is won as much by bowlers on dusty decks as it is by heavy hitters and the selectors have missed the boat badly in this instance.

The Big Bash, with its fast bowling and batting dominance, has romanced them into a failing love affair with those skills and they have not been faithful to their more public philosophy of ‘horses for courses’.

This time it looks like they have some gallopers, where the trotters might be more effective.

On slow-turning pitches, 20-over cricket has some clear tactics on slow, turning pitches.

You will not be seeing too much of the consistently huge hitting of the Big Bash, which is played on true and mostly quick surfaces.

Fast bowlers become redundant in India unless they have some crafty slower deliveries up their sleeves.

Andrew Tye should do well in these conditions but Mitchell Marsh’s splendid Test and ODI bowling will be less useful – as will his batting, which is tuned to hard and fast wickets. For me, there is the spot for Ashton Agar.

It’s not just the bowling department where the selectors have missed the point.

They think they can go into this slow bowling feast with only one left handed batsman, David Warner, and leave Usman Khawaja and Agar out.

Usman Khawaja is in excellent touch. Photo: Getty
Usman Khawaja is in excellent touch. Photo: Getty

Agar has been described by the selectors as the “15th man”, words that imply that selecting the WA spinner-slogger is an after-thought and that he won’t really play a part.

Khawaja is in the form of his life and should open with Shane Watson, who plays spin well and has the IPL experience.

The right-hand (Watson) and left-hand (Khawaja) combination at the top of the order should become part of the grand plan.

In New Zealand’s surprise win over India this week, their total of 126 was on the back of finesse rather than brute strength.

On most grounds, innings will have to be planned meticulously and sides will target modest totals, closer to 140 than 200. This is why Steve Smith needs to bat at the top for Australia.

Before Tuesday’s loss to New Zealand, my tip was India.

Playing on home pitches with a plethora of experience gained from numerous Indian Premier League seasons, they have spinners coming out of their armpits and batsmen who can clear grandstands – let alone small boundaries.

But their capitulation to the Black Caps on a pitch tailor-made for spinners Ravi Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina – Harbhajan Singh was on the bench can you believe! – was catastrophic.

In Group 2, which includes the Aussies, Pakistan and Bangladesh, two losses and the tournament is over.

It’s going to be hard for Smith’s men.

Australia takes on New Zealand at the World Twenty20 on Friday from 8.30pm (AEST).


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