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September 18, 2012
A month ago, Australia's Twenty20 captain George Bailey said that he believed there were about nine teams that could win the World Twenty20 title. Three weeks later, Australia slipped to tenth on the ICC rankings. For a few days they were, as far as the ICC was concerned, a worse T20 side than Ireland. It is easy to write Australia off as a Twenty20 team. They have one of the least settled sides in the tournament. Their captain hadn't even played an international match nine months ago. Since the last World T20, when they reached the final, they have had the worst win-loss ratio of any sides except Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya. Not since Six & Out released Can't Bowl, Can't Throw has Australian cricket been responsible for such an abysmal record.
But opponents will disregard Australia at their peril. John Inverarity's selection panel made some changes when they chose their first T20 squad earlier this year, not the least of which was installing Bailey as captain instead of the incumbent Cameron White. It was a bold decision, for Bailey's T20 form did not warrant selection, but the panel believed a quick-thinking captain was more important in T20 than in any other format, and after leading Tasmania for several years Bailey was viewed as an intelligent leader and tactician. Under his command, Australia have won three matches, lost three and tied another that they eventually lost in a Super Over. Their 94-run thrashing of Pakistan in Dubai just over a week ago is testament to what this Australian line-up can achieve when all goes to plan and barring a disaster against Ireland on Wednesday, Bailey's men have the potential to cause some trouble in the Super Eights.
The squad features a mixture of experience and youth. The oldest player in the tournament is the 41-year-old spinner Brad Hogg, whose selection was just as brave a move as making Bailey captain. He is likely to share the spin duties with Glenn Maxwell, 23, a power-hitting allrounder who was uncapped when chosen in the squad. David Warner and Shane Watson have the potential to be one of the most frightening opening combinations in the tournament, and only Brendon McCullum has hit more sixes in Twenty20 internationals than Watson's 47 and Warner's 46. Michael Hussey remains one of the game's best finishers. Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are two of Twenty20 cricket's most exciting young fast bowlers. And the man with more T20 runs than anyone else in the world, David Hussey, is also in the squad, even if he appears to have slipped out of the starting line-up. The sum of the parts should be considerable, but whether they will add up to a cohesive whole is the great unanswered question.
World T20 history
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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