Australia v Ireland, World T20 2012, Group B, Colombo September 18, 2012

Australia dread early slip-up


Match facts
September 19, 2012
Start time 1530 local (1000 GMT)

Big Picture

Twice in their history, Australia have slipped up disastrously against a less than fancied opponent early in a major event. The first instance came in 1983, when a Zimbabwe team led by Duncan Fletcher - who else? - ground down Kim Hughes' XI in the first round of the World Cup. Twenty-four years later, another Zimbabwe side upset Australia at the outset of the 2007 World Twenty20 in South Africa, a result that confirmed Ricky Ponting's side was less serious than required to deal successfully in the game's shortest variant.

There is a pattern to this. Australia took a long time to collectively grasp the tactical and technical realities of the one-day game, despite taking part in the first ODI in 1970-71 then being at the epicentre of Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, which used the format as its primary vehicle for public interest. Similarly, T20 has taken time to find its place in the thinking of the 21st century Australian cricketer, not least when donning the national colours. The selection panel appointed in the wake of Don Argus' review has plumped for a specialist captain in George Bailey and a team more weighted than ever in favour of T20 merchants. Flexibility is the watchword, and it will not be a surprise to see Australia's No. 3 differ depending on which of David Warner (Michael Hussey) or Shane Watson (Glenn Maxwell?) gets out first.

For all this progressive thinking Australia retain a whiff of T20 underachievement, an appearance in the 2010 World T20 final against England notwithstanding. Their mottled results were confirmed when they slipped briefly beneath Ireland on the world rankings earlier this month, to the disgust of Australians and the delight of their opponents. Now Ireland have the chance to prove themselves worthy of overcoming Australia in direct T20 combat rather than via the vagaries of the ICC's points system.

Ireland will, as ever, offer plenty of fight, flair and the odd patch of eye-catching skill. In Paul Stirling and Kevin O'Brien they have two natural hitters to match Australia's most proficient sluggers Warner and Watson. George Dockrell's mature-beyond-his-years spin bowling will also be a critical ingredient on what is likely to be a dry Premadasa Stadium surface, while Boyd Rankin, Trent Johnston and company will benefit from the sage advice of their newly-acquired bowling coach Craig McDermott. Australia should win, but they should also have beaten Zimbabwe twice before.

Form guide (completed matches, most recent first)
Australia WLLWL
Ireland LLLWW

Watch out for

Australia's most incisive bowler against Pakistan in the UAE, Mitchell Starc is capable of decidedly frightening spells of pace and swing. Australia are intent on using Starc and Cummins as the spearheads of the bowling attack, backing their ability to move the ball at high pace over the steadier options provided by Ben Hilfenhaus and Clint McKay. The strategy places plenty of confidence in Starc, who recently has merited it. but there remains the chance that he will lose rhythm and struggle with no-balls. Australia hope Wednesday will not be the day.

Since the 2011 World Cup, Kevin O'Brien has been the subject of a book, the target of plenty of attention from T20 club sides, and a slightly diminished batting presence in Ireland's XI. At the top level of T20 competition, O'Brien has never caught fire in quite the same way as he did against England in Bangalore last year, as a top score of 39* in seven matches at the World T20 can attest. O'Brien knows as well as anyone that he is capable of more, and a striking display against Australia would prove it.

Team news

The young pacemen Cummins and Starc appear to have secured their places in the first XI ahead of Hilfenhaus and McKay, while David Hussey appears out of favour and unlikely to displace either Glenn Maxwell or Cameron White.

Australia (probable): 1 David Warner, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Michael Hussey, 4 George Bailey (capt), 5 Cameron White, 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Dan Christian, 8 Matthew Wade (wk), 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 Brad Hogg

Ireland turned out close to their best side for a narrow warm-up victory over Bangladesh, reversing the results of three matches between the two countries in Belfast in July. They can be expected to field a similar combination against Australia.

Ireland (probable): 1 Will Porterfield (capt), 2 Paul Stirling, 3 Ed Joyce, 4 Gary Wilson (wk), 5 Kevin O'Brien, 6 Trent Johnston, 7 Nigel Jones, 8 Niall O'Brien, 9 George Dockrell, 10 Boyd Rankin, 11 Alex Cusack

Pitch and conditions

The Premadasa Stadium pitch is expected to start dry and get drier as the tournament goes on, so if there is ever going to be any moisture there it may be in game one. However the likelihood is a surface marginally friendlier to batsmen than spinners, with the pacemen hoping for more assistance through the air than off the pitch.

Stats and trivia

  • This is Ireland's first meeting with Australia in a T20 match
  • None of Australia's four leading wicket-takers in T20 matches are taking part. Brett Lee and Shaun Tait have retired, while Mitchell Johnson and Dirk Nannes were not selected


"Australia are our biggest threat. If we rock up ready to play and play as well as we can [against Ireland], then I don't think there's a threat."Australia's captain George Bailey is not spending too much time worrying about Ireland

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Peter on September 20, 2012, 0:21 GMT

    @Hammond. I guess you must have slept through the 06/07 Ashes tour down here. Don't look up the results if you want your happy mood to remain.*Winks*

  • John on September 19, 2012, 9:42 GMT

    @RJHB on (September 18 2012, 23:54 PM GMT), Ajmal did his part but the England bowlers were even better so I'm afraid that England enter the tournament along with Ireland as the only teams to have won two warmups (SA only played one and won it). I'm quite realistic enough to know that the warmups don't mean all that much but I'm afraid that RnWA has no cause to shut up just yet, other than the fact that even we England fans are sick of his tripe.

  • Deepak on September 19, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    upsets can happen in the world of cricket, like yesterday.. but i am not telling aussie are weak..if they are playing their best cricket they may overcome irish challenge .you can take it from srilanka..see how hard they fight against Zimbabwe and created history..australia cannot loose this match because if they loose their ranking will be below Zimbabwe...pathetic to see...i dont know how can dey play with the kids like camaroon white.. ajmal is a better batsman than my pakisthani friend Hammond told. and you have a big fan Mr. sanga_cricket_fan. he is telling david hussi is the best we all know he is far better than sanga and mahela..but not as gud as Misbah..courtesy Mr. Hammond.. Any way we will support aussie. otherwise their morale will as down as England..with out KP even pakistan can beat them as we can c the 4-0 result..ooooh.

  • Prasanna on September 19, 2012, 9:18 GMT

    @Josh puliampatta, to repeat, I dont think SA , Eng or Aus really care whether they do well on t20s. We just don't care !!!

    @Jason Bray, spot-on. Great to see a fellow Aussie ( or Aussie fan ) expressing similar sentiments as mine !! As said before, I would just love to see us Aus beating SA in the test-series rather than doing anything here in what people call as tee-20, if given a choice. Test cricket is the best !! Champion teams are those that do well in tests.

  • Wish on September 19, 2012, 9:15 GMT

    @Jose Puliampatta....I really don't understand what you are trying to get at..England are the number 1 ranked team...and last year's Champions...and Australia...hmmmm

  • Prasanna on September 19, 2012, 9:09 GMT

    @pommyadders and @Gizza, perfect words from you Folks. Well said.

    Being a champion in a limited overs game is NO substitute for being a poor test team. SA hasn't won a WC yet but they are respected because of they being a fantastic test team over the years. Though an Aussie, I have to admit that SA's overseas test record is better than us in the last 5+ years. Now thats what we call a champion stuff. Winning a very lottery form without any real test of skill or pressure is not !!!

    @Manan, so do you see say that having a world-cup is a qualiification to declare some-one as champion ? That's a gross disrespect for the awesome WI and Aus teams of the past who bull-dozed every other team both at home and away !! They are the champions, the real ones !! There are teams that won these trophies at home but never made it big away from home in tests. I am afraid they are just average ones unlike the real champions mentioned above.

  • Marcio on September 19, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    @ Hammond "it's always fun when an Australian cricket team loses". Trust me Mr Hammond, it's not as much fun as my imagining what you are going through every time they win.

  • Geoffrey on September 19, 2012, 8:58 GMT

    @ChrisP- actually since 2005 haven't felt grumpy much at all..

  • Jon on September 19, 2012, 8:57 GMT

    @RHJB- May want to retract that statement.

  • Scott on September 19, 2012, 8:53 GMT

    As much as I would like to see the Irish do well in this type of competition, I fear that the recent rankings may prove costly for them as Australia should be looking to demolish them....

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