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News Analysis

What might Australia look like at the 2024 T20 World Cup?

There is likely to be a significant turnover of players but some positions look harder to fill than others

Alex Malcolm
09-Nov-2022
Australia have nine months to digest their Super 12s exit from a home T20 World Cup before they start their build towards the 2024 edition in the Caribbean and the United States with their next T20I assignment in South Africa in August 2023. The winds of generational change are coming given the age profile of the current squad. What could Australia's team look like in two years' time?

The openers

Aaron Finch has likely played his last T20I for Australia. It remains to be seen whether David Warner has too. He will be just a few months shy of his 38th birthday at the next World Cup although he will likely still be playing in the IPL and could still be Australia's best opener.
Cameron Green is going to be invested in at the top of the order because he gives so much flexibility with the ball. But his workload over the three formats will ask a lot of him. Australia will face a challenge getting him enough experience given he won't play a lot of franchise cricket over the next two years. Josh Philippe and Ben McDermott have been waiting in the wings but might be fighting for one spot. Travis Head is another who could provide a lot of firepower at the top and would also give Australia a badly needed left-handed option.

Middle order

Australia's middle order is interesting in terms of the age profile. Mitchell Marsh will be 32 by the next World Cup, Glenn Maxwell 35, Marcus Stoinis 35, Tim David 28, and Matthew Wade 36. Wade had indicated earlier this year that the 2022 World Cup might be his last assignment for Australia but he is playing the best T20 cricket of his career and has been one of Australia's most reliable players over the last 12 months.
Josh Inglis is the obvious replacement as the wicketkeeper but it would reshape the order if he came in as he would be better-suited batting at No.4 or 5, which would give Australia an opportunity to push Maxwell, Stoinis and David deeper in the order. Maxwell's form in the last 12 months has been a worry but he would still likely be a pivotal member of the side, particularly with his offspin. Marsh and Stoinis, as always, will likely have fitness questions over them still two years down the track. Green's presence alleviates their requirement to bowl and gives Australia's selectors more options to pick specialists.
Ashton Turner is still highly regarded as a middle-order finisher and provides good tactical leadership and an offspin option. One thing Australia doesn't have if Wade retires is another left-hander in the middle or lower order which leaves them exposed to right-to-left spin. Head might be capable of playing in the middle order but his play against spin would need to significantly improve. Alex Carey is the only other option capable of filling a role. Steven Smith appears unlikely to be considered for the next World Cup unless his T20 batting dramatically improves over the next two years.

Bowlers

Australia's current selection panel will pick their bowling attack as a unit rather than the best four individual bowlers. They showed loyalty to Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins at this World Cup despite diminishing form but it's hard to see how both fit in Australia's best side at the next tournament, particularly on slow low pitches. Josh Hazlewood, should he remain fit and at his current level, will lead the attack. Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar will likely still be Australia's two best spinners in two years' time as they will only be 32 and 30 respectively and both could play in the same team in the Caribbean and the USA given how the pitches will play and Green's flexibility with the ball.
That combination will bring Nathan Ellis firmly into the frame as Australia's best death bowler. His lower release, his surprising pace, his yorkers and slower balls will be very effective on those pitches and he will have gained even more franchise experience by 2024. Starc could still be a weapon if he can regain his form and left-armers remain a priceless commodity.
Australia have Daniel Sams, Jason Behrendorff and Ben Dwarshuis in the wings but none bring quite the same weaponry at their best. Riley Meredith's express pace could bring another dimension, but he would need more experience in the conditions to be considered a chance. Jhye Richardson remains a highly skilled bowler but his shoulder issue in the field would need to have been solved fully by 2024. If spin reinforcement was needed, Tanveer Sangha, is currently recovering from a stress fracture of his back, could come into the frame while Mitchell Swepson was part of last year's squad in the UAE.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo