World T20 2016 March 12, 2016

Hazlewood calls for Australia to play more T20s


Josh Hazlewood wants Australia to gain more experience of Twenty20 cricket © Getty Images

Australia's record in World T20 events is a rather curious anomaly for a team that has generally bossed ICC events. The general perception - no doubt a result of holding Australia to the exalted standards they have set for themselves in the 50-over World Cup - is they have flopped in each of the five previous editions of the World T20, but in reality they have been hit or miss. Australia have managed two semi-finals and a final but have not made the knockouts in their other two attempts; in fact, their campaign in 2009 lasted a mere three days.

Some would suggest that Australia have rarely taken Twenty20 cricket seriously enough, despite their players being highly sought after in leagues across the world, not to mention the recent popularity of the Big Bash. The players disagree with such a notion but, undoubtedly, there is recognition that they need to play a greater number of T20Is.

In the last 12 months Australia have played only seven T20Is; among the eight top-ranked teams only England (7) and West Indies (2) have played that number or fewer. Pakistan (17), India (15), Sri Lanka (13) and South Africa (11) have played a considerably higher number of matches, with India and Sri Lanka stacking their calendar to such an extent that they have played eleven and nine matches respectively since the new year.

Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood reckoned his team would do well to adopt a similar approach and called for Cricket Australia to organise more T20 internationals in the lead-up to such big-ticket events.

"We obviously don't play as much T20 cricket as some of the other nations, and even in these conditions we don't play as much," he told journalists in Kolkata.

"I think we definitely could play T20 a little bit more leading into big tournaments like this and probably in conditions that we are going to face in the tournament. In the future that's something that we have to look at. It [India playing many games] is smart leading into a T20 tournament, to play a lot of that format that you are going to play. I think we are getting better at it but I think we still need to improve it."

John Hastings, Hazlewood's pace-bowling partner, agreed with the observation of their captain, Steven Smith, that the absence of many regular players from the Test and ODI side hurt Australia. He also felt that the heavy turnover of players didn't afford them much time to figure out their roles in the team.

"I think mainly it's because we haven't probably had a settled line-up over the years where the guys are resting at the back of a Test tour or a one day tour," he said. "There's been a lot of different players coming through and making their debuts for Australia in T20 cricket. So when you are always chopping and changing, it's difficult to have a really defined role in the side on what you want to get of it and what the team needs you to do."

Smith, however, was confident about Australia's chances given the number of players in the team who had knowledge of Indian conditions.

"Traditionally we haven't done as well as we would have liked in this format. This is a tournament that has eluded us so we're here to try and win it," he said. "We have all certainly played a lot of T20 cricket. We know how to play the game and if we do it to the best of our ability we are going to be a tough side to beat.

"I think IPL has been great in the development of a lot of players from all around the world. The experiences we have had from the IPL will hold us in good stead for this tournament. A lot of us know what to expect, what the conditions are going to be like. What it's like playing in front of big crowds here in India. We're really excited."

Hastings said Australia's 2-1 win in their recent T20 international series against South Africa was an injection of positive energy just ahead of the World T20. "It's been great that this last two weeks in South Africa we have had a pretty settled team," he said. "It's the same fifteen that are going to be with us right through for the next three weeks. I think that will hold us in better shape now [since] we know our guys inside out. Now it's about going out and executing our skills."

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Izmi on March 14, 2016, 1:32 GMT

    Unless Australia takes T20 cricket seriously it won't win a T20 world cup. Test cricket is losing it's glamour and the crowds are getting bigger for limited overs cricket due to the sheer entertainment and time factor. Sooner than later Australia will have to weigh it's options and start playing more T20 cricket. It is really shocking that Australia has only played seven T20 matches in the last twelve months before the world cup compared to other countries especially in the subcontinent while there are many aussie cricketers involved in franchises like the IPL. Australians have always looked down upon T20 cricket as a hit and giggle game and as a result it is not a very popular sport. Since recently the sport is gaining popularity and record crowds turned up for the last BBL in Australia while poor crowds attended the test series against the West Indies. It has a team of players in the current side who are involved in the IPL and the BBL who can win the T20 world cup for Australia.

  • John on March 13, 2016, 16:44 GMT

    Oz should stick to trying to build their road game in tests and become dominant again there so that the rest of the cricketing world has a collective nemesis and something to get pumped up about. We simply don't have that at the moment. There is enough 20/20 going on at the franchise level that a core of IPL/BBL stalwarts can get rolled out as required for T20. This tournament is basically a 10 slot roulette wheel with slots of different sizes. @ Dunger Bob: Australia are still loose second favorites at 9/2 so there would not be any great shock if they won this. Maxwell and one bowler only have to get hot for two weeks or so to pull it off.

  • Steve on March 13, 2016, 11:36 GMT

    @Dunger.bob He did keep in a Hobart side with Sangakarra and Paine. Regardless of the combination the selectors go with, we will be strong. Perhaps our best keeper is in the side and he may or may not be required to bat, depending on how the others fare. Hopefully he also gets plenty of glovework as ball beats bat.

  • rob on March 13, 2016, 11:20 GMT

    @ Jono: I'm inclined to agree about the specialist keeper theory. I thought most of the batsmen/keepers were pretty ordinary in the BBL. Put it this way. Matty Wade was looking a million bucks compared to some of them. It was all very sloppy with too many soft leg byes, fumbles, missed stumpings, dropped catches and muffed run-outs. Imo it comes from having poor positional sense and just general slowness around the stumps. Just the sort of thing to lose you a game of cricket even if you bat and bowl well. .. It would good if Pete could clear the fence a bit more often though.

  •   Jono Makim on March 13, 2016, 10:52 GMT

    @Dunger.Bob, I'm a Dunk fan too, but he had a miserable BBL this summer and I think that's why he has missed out, I realise he has been right up at the top in the Shield though and it's a bit hard to fathom that he made no runs in the Bash. If we were going to go down the road of a batsman/keeper rather than a keeper/batsman then maybe Travis Head would be another option to look at. In any case I don't think Nev will let us down, I'm comfortable with the idea of picking our best keeper when there is going to be quite a bit of spin bowling to keep to, if the top 7 we have now can't make enough runs than I don't think a no.8 who is marginally better is going to make much difference, a better keeper may make all the difference.

  • rob on March 13, 2016, 10:39 GMT

    @ Four_Bits: Even though it looks good on paper, I'm not sure about any of that mate. WK is one spot that seems to be a bit contentious, but is Dunk up to keeping at this level? Was he keeping in the BBL? I can't remember. .. I was actually thinking more along the lines of one to consider if someone gets injured and we need a replacement batsman. Still, yeah, if he wanted to do it and was up to it, why not try him as a keeper at some point. Anyway, who knows, Neville might might win us the world cup off his own bat. Somehow I doubt that though.

  • Steve on March 13, 2016, 8:23 GMT

    @Dunger.bob Dunk for Neville? What a great move. He can definitely tonk it. Where would you bat him? There's a fair bit of choice and excitement i might add, as to who plays at the top of the order. I think it would be something if Watson, Finch and Kawaja could all play and perhaps in that order and MMarsh could be dropped. Watson could cover those bowling duties. You could also have Dunk come in early and move Watson down. Can't wait to see which way they go for the first game.

  • Peter on March 13, 2016, 7:14 GMT

    if Josh can bowl variations of speed, bounce and length with control then he'll be a raging success. Otherwise he's too much into line and length. Perfect for tests and odis but fodder in this format. It is a big shift therefore the need for control.

  • rob on March 13, 2016, 4:49 GMT

    @ BaggyGreen. I agree with the specialisation idea, but only up to a point. On tough pitches (rare in T20 I know, but I have seen a few) I think what you want is simply good cricketers. Smith falls into that category for me. Josh too, but he may be a bit too predictable for T20. He's talented though. Maybe he can learn to mix it up like the best of them do. I wouldn't put it past him. .. Ben Dunk is a bloke I'd have my eye on if I was a selector. He's had a bumper year in the shield with 4 good tons but he can also swing the willow in T20. Really swing it at times. .. everyone talks about Lynn but to me he's a bit hit and miss. On form, right now, Dunk would be my man.

  • Craig on March 13, 2016, 2:29 GMT

    My take on T20 is it is a specialist form of cricket. So therefor it should have a specialist lineup. A lot of test players, such as Steve Smith and Josh Hazlewood do not appear suited to this quick fire format. Our selectors said BBL form would count towards WC selection. Pity they did not honor that pledge. Many T20 specialists are playing shield cricket around the country tomorrow instead of padding up against the Kiwis over in India.

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