Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Losing back-to-back matches and bowing out of a World Championship early in the first round is not something that Australian cricket is used to. Was it lack of match practice that led to their elimination?
Since 2005, when Australia played its first T20 International, it has played 19 matches, including the two in the current Championship and lost only seven of them. Prior to the World Championship, Australia won the warm-up games too. So, the notion that Australian cricket is not tuned to T20 cricket can therefore be safely ruled out.
Australia in T20 Internationals
Now let’s dig deeper into the reasons for Australia’s early departure.
Australia’s scores barely touched the averages at both the venues, which was obviously not enough to upstage the opponent. Also skipper Ricky Ponting chose to bat first at The Oval where the records clearly favoured the team batting second. But in both the matches, it was their bowlers that disappointed Australia with lackadaisical performances, since most of the fast bowlers were awfully short of match practice. Their bowlers took lesser number of wickets against the average second innings wicket fall at these venues.
Australian Bowling Efficiency at 2009 ICC T20
Talking of match practice, large number of players from most of the Test playing nations played in IPL 2009. What better match practice can one expect! Sri Lanka had four of them playing regularly in the IPL who contributing heavily to their team’s victory over Australia. West Indies had Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo, amongst the members of the current ICC T20 squad who played the IPL. The sheer number of matches that they played in the IPL helped them to be on top of their form in the ICC T20 as demonstrated by the table below. It gives a head-to-head comparison on how the players have carried their forms from IPL to the ICC T20 Championship.
In contrast, Australia played only 3 who are currently part of the team, as shown in the table below. The others were Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden – both retired.
*DNP = Did Not Play
One of the most successful Australian in the IPL was Andrew Symonds. But then, he was not part of the ICC T20 team. That’s another story!
But amongst these 3 players, namely David Warner, David Hussey were the top performers. Warner top scored against Windies to attain a Castrol Index of 75. David Hussey performed well in both the matches while Lee bowled much better in the second match.
Match practice really helps! Australia just didn’t give too much importance to the T20 formats. Or was it that Australia was too busy preparing for The Ashes series.