David Hussey squeezed out of side
David Hussey cannot command a place in Australia's first-choice side for the World Twenty20 despite being the most prolific run scorer in T20 history. Hussey has fallen out of favour with the national selectors over the past few games, having been dropped from the third match against Pakistan in Dubai earlier this month and left out of Australia's two warm-ups against New Zealand and England in Sri Lanka.
Nobody in world cricket has scored more T20 runs than Hussey's 4670 and only Albie Morkel has played more matches in the format than the 189 Hussey has taken part in. But Australia's selectors have preferred Hussey's Victorian team-mate Glenn Maxwell in the role of power-hitting offspinning allrounder, although the coach Mickey Arthur said Hussey could yet play a part in the tournament.
"We wanted to get everything structured and stable before we went into the tournament," told reporters after Australia's loss to England in Monday's warm-up match. "Seven doesn't go into six. One guy has to miss out. Since I've come in [as coach] he's played every game, bar the start of this tournament [and the last match in Dubai].
"We wanted to get a little bit more from Dave and we wanted Dave to finish games a little bit more than what he has. He's aware of that. We've had some good honest chats about it. Dave is still very clearly in the mix and down the line could play a really big role in this tournament."
Hussey, 35, retained his Cricket Australia contract during the off-season as he was viewed as a key man in T20 and ODI cricket, but the emergence of Maxwell, 23, has squeezed him out, while the selectors are also keen to find a place for the medium-pace bowling allrounder Daniel Christian. Arthur said Maxwell had shown plenty of promise during his initial matches for Australia.
"Glenn has played some really good one-day innings for us. He's got a bit about him," Arthur said. "If he has a good tournament he's certainly a guy who can win games for us. Dave's probably a little bit unlucky."
The Australians will have only 14 men to choose from for their tournament opener against Ireland in Colombo, with the spinner Xavier Doherty having flown home for the birth of his first child. Doherty is expected to rejoin the squad on Thursday, a day after the Ireland game. Arthur said Australia would be wary of the giant-killing Ireland, who earlier this month were briefly ahead of Australia on the ICC's T20 rankings.
Last year, Ireland beat England in the 50-over World Cup in what was one of the best matches of the tournament, and they defeated Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup. The Australians also know how easy it is to make a shaky start in the unforgiving T20 format, having lost their first World T20 match to Zimbabwe in 2007 and having been bundled out at the group stage in 2009.
"I know I'll only rest easy when that game's passed," Arthur said. "That's not through fear of failure. They have been a giant-killer and they're playing with a quite nice bit of freedom. Any team in this competition can win if they have a good day."
Although Ireland have only once beaten an ICC Full Member in a T20 international - they overcame Bangladesh in the 2009 World T20 - Australia would underestimate them at their peril. Shane Watson, the vice-captain, said Australia's form in the shortest format was such that they could not afford to give Ireland a sniff on Wednesday.
"Not too many guys have been talking about it but deep inside everyone knows they are a very dangerous team," Watson said. "They've got some highly skilled players and we certainly have to be at our best to make sure we dominate the game. We need to be at our best against Ireland to make a statement in our first game because we have been very up and down with our form."
The Australians finished their recent series against Pakistan on a high thanks to a 94-run win in the last match in Dubai, and they soundly defeated New Zealand in their first warm-up match in Colombo on Saturday. However, in their second practice game against England on Monday, a nine-run loss, Australia's fast men struggled to control the swing in the humid conditions - they averaged one wide every two overs - and it is something they will need to manage in their group matches against Ireland and West Indies.
"That's going to be one of the crucial things, controlling that new-ball swing," Watson said. "In this humidity the new ball is going to swing and we have got guys who can swing the ball, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc, so we have to make sure we can control it because we can't afford to have that many extras. In the end that was the reason they got 170, and it lets the batsmen off."