World T20 2014

Favourites Australia eye elusive crown

Brydon Coverdale

March 22, 2014

Comments: 22 | Text size: A | A

Overview



Brad Hodge goes for a hook, South Africa v Australia, 2nd T20, Durban, March 12, 2014
With 5934 runs from 214 matches, Brad Hodge, at 39, is the leading run-scorer in Twenty20 cricket © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Aaron Finch | Brad Hodge
Series/Tournaments: World T20
Teams: Australia

The list of trophies won by Australia over the years is long and impressive, but there is one conspicuous absence. For all their success in World Cups, Champions Trophy tournaments and Test cricket, the World T20 has eluded them. Of course the history of the event is short, stretching back only as far as 2007, but the lack of a title in any of the four editions so far staged bothers the Australians. They enter the 2014 tournament with their best chance yet and, according to most reputable betting companies, as the favourites.

It is a favouritism based in part on their recent form against England and South Africa but as much on their batting strength as anything. David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Brad Hodge, George Bailey, Cameron White, Brad Haddin, Glenn Maxwell - that's some pretty impressive depth. The absence of Mitchell Johnson due to injury will hurt them, although Mitchell Starc has developed into one of the finest fast bowlers in T20 cricket, and James Faulkner offers an important all-round option.

In the early days of the World T20, Australia's selectors did not grant the format due respect and assumed the one-day team would do the job. Over time, and with a new selection panel in place, the Australians have realised that to win this event they will need proven T20 performers, regardless of age.

Initially T20 seemed a young man's game; now it is recognised that older types in the twilight of their careers may just have the experience and wiles required. Hence the presence of 43-year-old Brad Hogg, 39-year-old Hodge and 36-year-old Haddin in this squad.

"We've got the most balanced side that I've ever been involved with and a balanced squad," said Watson, who is the only Australian to have been part of the squads for all five World T20s, including this one. "I think the versatility of this squad (is) more than any squad that I've played Twenty20 cricket for Australia. Certainly in all conditions against any opposition we can match up really well, I think it gives us more of a chance to be able win it."

Key player


With Warner and Watson to occupy two of Australia's top three batting spots, you would think the other man in that trio might fly under the radar. Except that Aaron Finch enters the tournament as the newly-crowned No.1-ranked T20 international batsman in the world. Last year, Finch smashed the record for the highest score in a T20 international when he plundered 156 against England in Southampton and his clean striking and ability to consistently clear the fence makes him as exciting a player as there is in this Australian squad.

Surprise package


The catalogue of T20 teams Brad Hodge has played for is almost as long and impressive as Australia's trophy list. Surely nobody can be shocked by the presence of Twenty20 cricket's all-time leading run scorer at this tournament? Well, yes, the inclusion of Hodge was a surprise to many people, not least Hodge himself.

Often overlooked by the national selectors during his heyday, Hodge had long since written off his international career when he was recalled in January at 39. But his T20 experience, including in Bangladesh with the Barisal Burners, encouraged the selectors to take a punt. His Man-of-the-Match effort in the second T20 in South Africa this month suggested it might have been a good call.

Weakness


The Australians like the ball coming on to the bat and in the group stage they will face three teams strong on spin options - Pakistan, West Indies and India. There is also the question of whether their own slow bowling will be good enough. Hogg has experience but with the raw legspinner James Muirhead and the part-timer Glenn Maxwell as his main support in spinning conditions, they do look a little thin in that department.

World T20 history


They might not have won the trophy yet but in three of the four World T20s so far, Australia have made it to at least the semi-final stage. England beat them in the decider in 2010 and last time they were bundled out by eventual champions West Indies in a semi-final. Their low point was the 2009 tournament, when they failed to make it past the group stage.

Recent form


Australia are five from five this year after beating England 3-0 and South Africa 2-0. There could hardly be a better time to hit their peak. But it was only this summer that things started turning around for Bailey's men - from the end of the previous World T20 until the games against England, their record was LLLWLL.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by gsingh7 on (March 23, 2014, 11:23 GMT)

hows favourite tag helping aus now?. below par average batting lineup of pak scored 190 vs aus's pace attack and now warner gone on 2nd ball. this is sub continent and aus will be lucky to win 1 out of 3 matches against pak, india and wi. very tough on turning tracks.

Posted by andrew-schulz on (March 23, 2014, 10:14 GMT)

How's Hogg's fielding looking now, PFEL? He's always had a shocking pair of hands, and misguided people have called him a good fielder because he charges around the field, usually getting in other fielders' way. You can't make your comment seem incisive just by putting LOL on the end.

Posted by dunger.bob on (March 23, 2014, 8:54 GMT)

@ Sri_Lankan_Fan : Yes, yes you do. That's why it could very well be an Au/SL final. Lot's of cricket to be played before then though. .. Pakistan is always a dangerous side. Jekyll & Hyde almost. You just never know whether it's going to be the lion or the pussy cat that turns up. .. I like that about them, always have. .. must be frustrating for the fans though.

Posted by Attractivue on (March 23, 2014, 8:46 GMT)

If Australia can conquer the best spin side in the world (Pakistan) then I think it will be major worries for the teams like SL and India. I think Australia will be the favourites if they win tonight!!

Posted by Sri_Lankan_Fan on (March 23, 2014, 7:52 GMT)

@ dunger.bob - Love your attitude mate , much like ours , right down to the last man standing we fight !!

Posted by   on (March 23, 2014, 7:35 GMT)

I'm a Bangladesh lives in Australia. I love Australia and Bangladesh. My loyalty is divided. Who ever win i love you both. Good luck. Aussie and deshi all the way. Pakistan is no match

Posted by bouncer709 on (March 23, 2014, 6:20 GMT)

I don't say who will win today, But I am sure, in this group Australia is more worried about Pakistan.... They know the only team in this group who can beat them is Pakistan.

Posted by NALINWIJ on (March 23, 2014, 4:00 GMT)

Australia has one weakness and that is the quality of their spinners and batsmen facing quality spinners from elsewhere. Dew factor can nullify that advantage other team has on Australia. If Australia can beat Pakistan then Pakistan will be virtually eliminated. AUS has the best 1,2,3 in the competition for explosive starts. [Finch, Warner, Watson ] and can also pick early wickets but their ability to contain with spinners in the middle overs and bowlers to finish is limited and on other hand this is Sri Lanka's strength.

Posted by   on (March 23, 2014, 2:16 GMT)

Australia are favorites this T20, I think a Srilanka V Australia final is on the cards. As a Pakistan fan the India game was a must win. As Australia in their current form will be very tough to beat.

Posted by   on (March 23, 2014, 0:59 GMT)

Ok, to echo what everyone else here is saying - and bear in mind I *am* Australian - how can Australia possibly be the favourites? I realise this is the opinion of the bookmakers but when you look at SL & India (and NEVER write off Pakistan) playing in familiar conditions with formidable world class line-ups I think Australia's difficulties with high class spin will give the subcontinental teams too much of an advantage.

Posted by Not_Another_Keybored_Expert on (March 23, 2014, 0:42 GMT)

The best thing going for Aus at the moment is the lack of quality spin bowling worldwide, only Pakistan possess this , it has to be the leanest era spin wise in a long time.

Posted by PFEL on (March 22, 2014, 23:01 GMT)

Sorry @shrastogi, but Hogg is still one of the best fielders in the world mate. No need to hide him lol

Posted by dunger.bob on (March 22, 2014, 21:59 GMT)

@ Srini_Chennai: I agree that we (Au) shouldn't be the favourites for this tournament. We've been in Bangladesh for a little more than a week and have well documented problems on the lower-slower pitches. We're up against a number of teams that have been in Bang. for months and just completed a major tournament there so should be feeling right at home. It's a big, big call to install us as favourites.

Still, we are who we are and that means we're going to fight tooth and nail, right down to the last man standing and we will not give up. Everything might be against us on this outing but any one who thinks they can just turn up with a couple of tweakers and we'll turn to jelly at the sight of them is sadly, fatally mistaken. .. like I said before, catches taken in the car-park don't actually count as a wicket.

Posted by Abu-007 on (March 22, 2014, 21:28 GMT)

Australia isnt up against Pak, India or WI. There up against the AJMAL'S, the ASHWIN'S and the NARINE'S.

Posted by   on (March 22, 2014, 18:32 GMT)

Only problem for aus is their weakness against quality spin bowling. This would be more of a challenge in spin friendly conditions of ban. If they get past this challenge they stand a very good chance.

Posted by Srini_Chennai on (March 22, 2014, 17:55 GMT)

Favorites australia?? LOL! We know what happens when the ball just spins a millimeter. Though, being an Indian, I hope Pakistan crushes australia tomorrow. Would be great if India and WI progress from this group with australia losing all matches. That would be fun!

Posted by mzm149 on (March 22, 2014, 16:34 GMT)

Australians are favorites to reach the finals or even win the cup in my opinion. They are in sublime form at the moment but they will have to prove themselves in this part of the world.

Posted by gsingh7 on (March 22, 2014, 14:35 GMT)

how can aus be favourites as they have never won t20 world cup and there are better limited over sides than aus like india sl, wi , pak ,especially in sub continent?. in my views aus will be lucky to win 1 out of three matches against india, wi and pak.india , wi looks most likely to qualify from this group.

Posted by fazald on (March 22, 2014, 14:02 GMT)

I reckon Australia's chances of winning this T20 World Cup depends how well they handle the spinners on the spin friendly pitches in Bangladesh. They have strong and hard hitting batsmen who can constantly smash the bowling to all parts and over the ground in Warner, Finch, Watson, Maxwell, White, Haddin, Bailey, Hodge and Starc etc. But their bowling attack looks a little weak in the absence of Johnson and Faulkner due to injury. It also depends how the spinners Hogg and Muirhead bowl on these wickets and could be targeted especially by the batsmen in the sub-continent who are very strong against good spin bowling. As such Australia has to make sure that their batsmen score plenty of runs and post a big total of over 200 runs every time if they bat first to make up for their under strength bowling attack. At the sametime If they can bowl the opposition teams within a total below 200 I am sure the aussies will be on their way to winning their first T20 World Cup in Bangladesh.

Posted by C.Gull on (March 22, 2014, 11:34 GMT)

@shrastogi, I can only assume you've never seen Hogg field nor Hodge bat, and you didn't see Haddin in the Ashes either. Re: the concerns about Australia's spin dept, I'll repeat my prediction that Muirhead will more than pay his way on this tour.

Posted by dunger.bob on (March 22, 2014, 9:33 GMT)

If the pitches are turning as much as most people seem to think they will when Au is playing, well there's something inherently unfair about it. Imagine the uproar if a sub-con team had to play on a spitting seamer. .. T20 pitches should definitely err on the side of being batter friendly rather than being rank turners or green seamers.

I'm going to assume that the pitches will be reasonably benign. If that's true, our batsmen should be able to handle the spinners just fine. You can't put fieldsmen in the car-park after all.

Posted by shrastogi on (March 22, 2014, 9:04 GMT)

Well analysed but for the line mentioning about "experienced players in the twilight of their career". T20 is still a young man's game and needs multi dimensional players. Australia is desperate in the spin department. There is no reason to play a 43 year old , who may be below average in field & in batting, otheriwse. So aussies would need to hide Hogg in the field and hope his batting is not needed. So pressure would be on Hogg to deliver with ball. Hodge & Haddin are borderline cases though Haddin can be considered for a year or two more.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
Tournament Results
India v Sri Lanka at Dhaka - Apr 6, 2014
Sri Lanka won by 6 wickets (with 13 balls remaining)
India v South Africa at Dhaka - Apr 4, 2014
India won by 6 wickets (with 5 balls remaining)
Sri Lanka v West Indies at Dhaka - Apr 3, 2014
Sri Lanka won by 27 runs (D/L method)
Pakistan v West Indies at Dhaka - Apr 1, 2014
West Indies won by 84 runs
Bangladesh v Australia at Dhaka - Apr 1, 2014
Australia won by 7 wickets (with 15 balls remaining)
More results »
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