Sport | Cricket

Australia present a new line-up for comeback

Danger of slipping below Ireland in world ranking looms large

  • By K.R. Nayar Chief Cricket Writer
  • Published: 19:53 September 7, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AP
  • Australian players walk off the field of play together after they lost their first cricket T20 cricket match of a three-match series between Australia and Pakistan at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.

Dubai: Australia made radical changes to their playing XI on Friday following their team’s huge defeat in the first match of the Bank Alfalah Presents Cool & Cool Cup Series at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.

The Australians reacted to their seven-wicket humbling, in what was a 25,000 sell-out stadium, by dropping spinner Xavier Doherty, pacer Ben Hilfenhaus and all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.

In their places, they included all-rounder Daniel Christian, left-arm spinner Brad Hogg and strike bowler Mitchell Starc. Following Wednesday’s thrashing, if Australia were to have lost this match, they were set to slip below Ireland in the T20 world rankings.

It is clear that Australia have not come to terms with the Twenty20 format, in spite of showing their class in other varieties. In fact, in one-day and Test cricket they have ruled the roost in the world.

Australia are a team with aggressive batsmen and also strike bowlers, but as a team they have never clicked in Twenty20. Most of their players are also a huge hit in the Indian Premier League, which follows the T20 format.

David Warner, one of their finest hard-hitters, has not been in the best of form.

In the recently concluded one-day series, his highest score was 24. But at his best, he is a batsman who can single-handedly thrash any bowling attack.

Australia also have Shane Watson, who is considered to be one of the finest players in T20 cricket. It is a fact that if he clicks, it will be sure defeat for the opponents. Hogg, who was back in the team yesterday, is 41 years old, but his left-arm spin with variations can put any team in danger. It will be nice if Starc can also show his skills in the Twenty20 version like he did in the one-dayers.

Michael Hussey’s game is also superbly suited for the Twenty20 format and Cameron White’s batting style is also tailor-made for T20.

No wonder, then, that George Bailey, the skipper of the Australia team, believes that his team can win the Twenty20 World Cup. “We know what we are capable off as a team. The defeat (in the first match) has not altered my thoughts that we can still be a very good team,” said Bailey.

The Dubai Twenty20 series has come at the right time for Australia. For them, getting used to sub-continental conditions was a must before the Twenty20 World Cup. Though they succumbed to the Pakistan attack on Wednesday, especially the spinners, it will be a learning curve for them.

Mickey Arthur, their shrewd coach, must have closely watched his batsmen’s defects and will be busy working out a plan for the Twenty20 World Cup.

However, he has to admit that none of his bowlers are among the top 30 in Twenty20 internationals and they are playing against Pakistan, who have Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul, all top wicket-takers in this format.

Despite Afridi having to miss the first match due to an injury, the Pakistan attack was still very strong. Afridi missed the second match too and will play only in the third match of this series on September 10.

The Dubai International cricket stadium boundaries are not near and Australians could hit only three boundaries in their first match.

It wasn’t because they did not have the strength to hit, but lacked the skill to hit the spinners. It is in this area the Australians will have to sharpen their skills to get on top.

Gulf News