Australia is facing its largest cricketing crisis in recent years as they suddenly see themselves placed 10th on the ICC World T20 Rankings; behind test cricketing no-shows, Ireland.
It comes at the worst possible time as the Australians gear themselves up for the upcoming T20 World Cup to be held in Sri Lanka.
The main issue for the dip in performance surround the problems with personnel as the selection panel continue to be troubled by finding the right combination of players.
After the recent seven wicket drubbing by Pakistan in game one where the Aussies only recorded a paltry 89 runs, three changes were made which saw the likes of paceman Ben Hilfenhaus, orthodox spinner Xavier Doherty and all-rounder Glenn Maxwell dropped.
The performance was much improved in the second game of the series; however the Aussies still went down in a super over as the scores were locked at 151 after the 40 overs.
Selector John Inverarity and his associates continue to face a similar dilemma which Andrew Hilditch and his team faced throughout the 2010 Ashes; however Hilditch’s performance in 2010 saw him sacked.
As the recipe for Australia’s best T20 side is yet to be discovered, the captain of the T20 side George Bailey continues to undergo scrutiny for his team’s decline in performance.
His performances have not been hindered but rather enhanced by the responsibility of captaincy as he boasts a healthy average of 29 in the shortened game; however elite Victorian cricketer Brad Hodge has particularly questioned the decision to rush him in.
“These decisions where George Bailey gets given the captaincy…is just mind-boggling. I’d rather be out than in to be honest,” said Hodge earlier this year.
Some say he was not prepared to take on the role of captaincy, having never played T20 cricket for Australia prior to his appointment; however Bailey remains confident that his team is heading in the right direction.
“I am really pleased that we performed much closer to what I think we are capable of. The guys will take a lot of confidence out of this individually and as a team,” he said yesterday.
Ironically, Australia’s first assignment in the World Cup is Ireland and then they will take on the pre-tournament favourites West Indies. Australia should cruise through the first match, but the second match against the West Indies will be more difficult.
The West Indies side should be at full strength as former captain Chris Gayle returns to the side after he concluded his 18 month standoff with the West Indies Cricket Board in July.
All-rounder Dwayne Bravo has recovered from the injuries which he incurred in a car crash, and will be back to bolster all facets of the West Indies game.
The Windies have entered training camp with hopeful enthusiasm as they seek to claim their very first T20 crown. In particular, captain Darren Sammy is excited by his team’s potential.
“This is a huge tournament for the team and the fans as well, so we will go to Sri Lanka and give it all we`ve got. We believe we can win, but it will be hard, tough work,” Sammy said yesterday.
Australia will be eager to take on a full strength West Indies at its best since the 1970’s and 80’s where a win should cement their place in the super eight stage.
If Doherty and Brad Hogg can find their niche on the spin friendly Sri Lankan pitches then the Aussies could do more damage than their 10th place ranking suggests.
Shane Watson was particularly excited by the prospect of playing within a young and talented team such as this.
“This team has got good balance of youth and experience and on our day we can beat the best teams in the world,” he said recently.
While a runner-up performance like the previous T20 World Cup seems out of reach, a fully fit and firing Aussie line-up governed by a committed and inspired George Bailey could see the Aussies feature in the semi finals.
Tom Parker is currently studying a Bachelor of Journalism (Sport) at La Trobe University. You can find Tom on Twitter at: @parker0_1