Unlike Dr. Evil and Homer Simpson before them, Australia’s quest for world domination in cricket is beginning to be realised.
If they can win the T20 World Cup when it is hosted in the Caribbean and the United States next year, they will have the full complement of global trophies in their bulging cupboard.
That’s all three men’s trophies plus the women’s World Cup – and if the ICC decides to get serious about women’s team Tests, let’s face it, Australia will likely retain that too.
Australian cricket’s bigwigs, in their various strategic plans and in-depth reports when fortunes turn sour, repeatedly state that their goal is to become the best nation on the planet in all formats.
India are ranked top in all three formats (for now), the balance of power in the boardroom and the global portfolio, but they can’t buy a World Cup (well, not yet anyway) no matter how much they juggle the pitches or play. Silly buggers who have scheduling and ticketing to their advantage.
After Australia’s women claimed their third successive T20 World Cup win earlier this year in South Africa to go with last year’s ODI tournament win in New Zealand, the men’s Sunday night 50-run win over India in Ahmedabad now accompanies the tournament. World Test Championship silverware they collected when they beat the same opponents in June at The Oval.
The next women’s tournament will not be held until Bangladesh hosts the T20 World Cup next September, a few months after the men’s tournament in North America.
Australia’s selectors have been steadily delaying the inevitable refresh of their old squads across all three formats, and if they had failed in India, it would have given them license to cash in on a few veteran stars on the shoulder.
But after winning the ODI title with a squad that included 28-year-old Josh Inglis as the youngest player and one of only three players not yet 30, chief selection committee George Bailey, coach Andrew McDonald and Tony Dudemaid will be inclined to give this group another chance to cement their growing legacy in T20 slow fest.
The shorter format was Australia’s weakest in the men’s field. Aside from an unexpected 2021 World Cup win during the pandemic in the UAE, their performances have been consistently poor.
Currently ranked fourth, it has played far fewer T20 matches in recent years than the other 11 full ICC members with the exception of Afghanistan, which is hampered by the inability to play matches on home soil as well as the reluctance of other countries to host them, or to boycott them. Explicit in the Australian case.
Many members of Australia’s ODI squad will have to fork out leftovers to line up for the cash-in, a five-match series in India that begins on Friday in Visakhapatnam.
Victorious captain Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Marsh and Cameron Green have been excused for the series.
Travis Head, David Warner and Steve Smith remain for at least the first two matches before they are likely to return home to prepare for the start of the three-Test series against Pakistan in Perth on December 14.
Glenn Maxwell, Inglis and fellow ODI squad members Marcus Stoinis, Tanveer Sangha and Sean Abbott will be joined by Nathan Ellis, Matt Short and Matthew Wade in what will be the first of many Tests for next year’s T20 campaign to complete the trophy collection.
The decision to appoint Matthew Wade as captain still needs to be properly explained by the selectors – Marsh provided a good grip of his white-ball captaincy on the World Cup warm-up tour of South Africa and is certainly ahead of Wade. In the race to captain the T20 team next year.
The head should be given the nod (pun intended) before both – he has vast experience at state level and looms as a logical replacement for Cummins in Test and ODI Tests when the NSW seamer retires or gives up the reins.
Not that his three-row status needs any further confirmation, but his 100th win in Sunday’s World Cup final showed he is not afraid of the big moments.
He has the respect of his teammates, has a tactical sense and, as the only Australian player under 30, has the right mix of experience without being near the end of his career.
His opening partner is planning to finally retire from international cricket in the T20 World Cup, and based on the white-ball form in both the limited overs, you could make an argument for keeping him in the side despite being the wrong side 37-year-old.
It is his planned Test of the farewell tri-match against Pakistan that poses a problem for the Australian squad. His Test form has been sub-par for a long time now and despite another mediocre Ashes tour, it looks like he will hold out Cameron Bancroft’s mounting demands for a call-up until the West Indies return for a second summer of woe in January.
With a Test tour to New Zealand the only other slightly meaningful cricket match on the horizon, the T20 World Cup suddenly has a lot more significance for Australia.
The race for selection in the team will, perhaps for the first time, become an ongoing story and could spark interest in the BBL among many die-hard Test supporters.