Sport Cricket Those international T20s are distracting us from what’s really important

Those international T20s are distracting us from what’s really important

Aaron Finch
Aaron Finch will captain Australia's T20 team this season. Photo: Getty
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The Australian T20 cricket team is about to embark on four games, drawing our focus and energy away from where it should be: the baggy green and December 6.

Our international short-form team takes on South Africa on the Gold Coast on Saturday night, before tackling India in the next three matches.

Hello, is anyone watching? Does anyone care? What is the point of these games? Do they count for much?

The international Test series starts in Adelaide on December 6. Against India, it is a chance for us to restore pride and respect in our signature cap.

I’m a big supporter of domestic T20 cricket and believe each country should have its own strong domestic tournament, as most now do, with all the star players available to play as much as possible.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli is determined to silence Australian crowds. Photo: Getty

The hectic nature of the international schedule makes these games an unnecessary evil. Having international T20 cricket tacked on to the start of a Test series or at the end of one isn’t good for the international product and brand.

If we must have international T20 games saturating the market they should be limited, with a world cup held every two years. Each country can simply pick its teams from its own domestic competition.

This would provide rewards for performances in that competition. It would give the Big Bash League even more meaning, importance and focus, especially leading into the world cup event.

The key ingredients

Glenn Maxwell misses the opportunity to press his Test claims by playing in the Sheffield Shield game for Victoria on Saturday, instead of wearing his country’s T20 colours in the evening. It makes no sense to me at all.

Glenn Maxwell
It’s a no show from The Big Show for Australia T20 team on Saturday night. Photo: Getty

The tactics and strategy of this high-octane format are grossly misunderstood. It is the format of the game that requires the most planning and precision even though it’s the shortest version. First and foremost a strategically smart captain with a cool head is a vital ingredient in this format.

Aaron Finch has matured and is ready to lead our men up against a mighty fine player and super-cool head in Proteas leader Faf Du Plessis, on the Gold Coast.

When the Indian skipper Virat Kohli arrives at the Gabba midweek all sense of calm subsides. He is erratic and super aggressive. That said, he is a world-class player and often at his best when in a feisty mood. He has a very talented T20 outfit at his disposal.

The Australian team has not been great in the T20 format, and it’s time this trend changed.

Justin Langer is the most successful coach in our domestic competition, creating a winning formula and culture with the Perth Scorchers before he assumed the mantle of Australian head coach. Can he create that same winning formula with our best short-form players?

Fresh blood

Over the next week of “fast-food” cricket, there are a handful of players to keep an eye out for. They’re not huge household names (to most of us) just yet, but they are ready to change that.

Australia: Ben McDermott has had a horror patch with run-outs since his debut last month in the UAE. But if he gets a start in the line-up he is capable of lighting up the big stage.

He is such a clean hitter, which was on display when he shot to prominence playing for the Hobart Hurricanes against the Melbourne Renegades in January 2017. His sparkling 114 runs off just 52 balls was world-class striking.

South Africa: Heinrich Klassen is the Proteas’ version of Glenn Maxwell.

Klassen is an aggressive right-hand batsman/wicketkeeper, although he is unlikely to wear the gloves as he sits behind Quentin DeKock in the pecking order. Keep an eye out for his explosive batting and innovative stroke play.

He will reverse sweep, switch hit, charge the fast bowlers then follow up with the ramp. His strike rate in his five appearances for his country in T20 is 167. Make no mistake, he can really go.

India: Get ready to be bamboozled by Kuldeep Yadav, a young left-arm wrist spinner. If you thought Brad Hogg was special, tune in and watch this bloke bowl.

His record, although still in its embryonic stages, is outstanding in all three formats and he may well prove a handful for our batsmen this summer. He is a wicket taker in this format, where spin to win is now the common theme around the world.

I just wonder when Australia will catch on.

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