Australia have called on Michael Hussey as a coaching consultant for the World Twenty20 next year and have also enlisted former India ODI player Sridharan Sriram to help them prepare for the conditions in India. The World T20 is the one major piece of silverware Australia are yet to win and given the spinning conditions in India, breaking through in the 2016 tournament would be a major challenge.
Adding to their concerns ahead of the tournament the No.7-ranked T20 bowler in the world, Mitchell Starc, is almost certain to be unavailable due to his recovery from ankle surgery. Twenty20 has very much taken a back seat for Australia this year, with the World Cup having been their key 2015 focus. Remarkably, Australia have played only one T20 in 2015.
That will change in the new year with Australia to host India for three T20s in late January, before they travel to South Africa for three more T20s in early March, ahead of the World T20. Hussey will join the squad in India for the first two weeks of the tournament; Australia's first match is against New Zealand in Dharamsala on March 18.
"Mike has been one of our most successful players at transitioning between the different formats and his advice and support in this area will be of great benefit to the players who have played a large amount of Test and ODI cricket in the last 12 months," Pat Howard, the Cricket Australia executive general manager team performance, said.
"He also has significant experience playing in India through the Indian Premier League and will assist in adapting to the unique conditions we will experience."
Hussey said he was excited about the opportunity to work with Australia, having retired as an international player in 2012-13. "As a proud Australian cricketer I am delighted to be involved in Australia's campaign for the World T20 title," Hussey said. "I'm really looking forward to working with the boys and assisting in any way possible with their preparation and match day plans."
Sriram, an allrounder who played eight ODIs for India from 2000 to 2004, will work with the Australians in South Africa to help them prepare for what they will face in the Indian conditions. Australia announced in September that Sriram would join them as a coaching consultant for their Test series in Bangladesh, but that tour was ultimately cancelled for security reasons.
"We will play three T20 internationals against South Africa prior to arriving in India and Sriram's focus will be on getting the players as prepared as possible for what they will face in India," Howard said.
"Sriram was a consultant coach with the Australia A side when they travelled to India earlier this year and was due to go to Bangladesh as a consultant prior to the tour being postponed. He has also been working with our National Performance Squad for the past few years."