Captain says Australia will “go with seven specialist batters, four specialist bowlers, plus the allrounders.”
Australia had made the 2020 T20 World Cup, to be held in Australia, a priority back in 2018 with Finch, coach Justin Langer and Australia’s selectors developing a consistent five-specialist bowler strategy over the course of 12 months which saw them win four consecutive series and reach world No. 1 for the first time in May of 2020.
But with the tournament delayed by a year and moved to the UAE, Australia have lost their way losing four consecutive series and head into the World Cup ranked 7th. Finch admitted the Covid-19 pandemic did affect their long-term planning.
“Plans have sort of gone out the window recently but that’s part and parcel with what’s happened worldwide we’re fully understanding of that,” Finch said. “To be able to continue to put on a great show in world cricket, to go ahead in a pandemic and we’re very grateful for that”
Australia will not play with five specialist bowlers as they have done for most of the last two years. While Finch would not confirm which bowlers would be selected, he did state that allrounders Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, and Marcus Stoinis would all play together.
“We’ll go with seven specialist batters, four specialist bowlers, plus the allrounders,” Finch said. “We’ve got a lot of confidence in the depth of our squad. We’ve got a lot of confidence in Maxwell, Stoinis, and Marsh to be able to bowl their four overs as well.
“We think that on these wickets and in these conditions that they can do a really good job and be an attacking option as much as anything.”
That means if Australia picks their two specialist spinners in Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa, which appears highly likely, then only one of Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, or Kane Richardson will play in support of Mitchell Starc.
Australia’s desire for stronger batting is a clear sign of the concern over their opening duo. Warner’s lack of runs has been well documented, but Finch once again leapt to his defence.
“I’m backing Davey’s ability,” Finch said “I’m backing his judgment. I think if you look at his World Cup history, it’s just bloody good. So, would he have liked more runs, absolutely. Everyone would like more runs all the time but he’s one of the greatest players Australia’s ever produced and I’ve got no doubts that come game one he will be up and firing ready to go.”
The other elephant in the room is the form of Finch himself. He missed the recent tour of Bangladesh after requiring knee surgery and while his knee has fully recovered and is not a concern, his career T20 record in the UAE is far more worrying. In 22 career innings in the UAE in all T20s he averages 21.30 and strikes at 110. In five T20Is in the country he has made just 10 runs. He was dropped by Royal Challengers Bangalore during last year’s IPL and though he does have an outstanding T20I overall record that commands respect, he averages 20 runs fewer per dismissal in Asia and his strike-rate drops to 124 compared to 159 outside of Asia.
The opening combination of Finch and Warner is vital to Australia’s chances in the tournament, particularly given the importance of having a productive powerplay with the bat in the slower conditions.
“Even though it’s different surfaces to what the IPL used, we saw the impact that had,” Finch said. “The teams that won the powerplay, that went a long way to winning the game as the wickets deteriorated. I think the wickets first off in the tournament here will start out a little bit better, and probably be a little bit more consistent throughout the 40 overs. But as it gets a bit more traffic and the tournament gets a bit deeper, that might slow up and spin a little bit more. But, yeah, the powerplay is going to be crucial no doubt for both teams.”
Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo
West Indies tour of India
Bonner, Bravo and King strengthen batting for India tour after shock Ireland defeat
Roach is one of six additions to the squad that lost 2-1 at home to Ireland this month, with Roston Chase and Justin Greaves among the players dropping out of the squad after lean series with the bat.
“Kemar Roach is one of our leading fast bowlers,” Haynes said, “and we believe we need bowlers up front to get early wickets. Kemar, with an economy rate of five, is certainly good enough to play.”
The three-match ODI series, which will be played in Ahmedabad on February 6, 9 and 11, is part of the ODI Super League which forms the pathway for the 2023 World Cup, which is scheduled in India in October-November next year.
Greaves struggled in all three matches and has now been replaced by Bonner, who made his ODI debut in Bangladesh series last year. Haynes said that Bonner had come on “leaps and bounds” in recent years and that he deserves “an opportunity to play in the 50-over format” and stressed his desire for competition for places ahead of the 2023 World Cup in India.
“We want to have competition for places,” he said. “We want to reach a stage where we have a lot of players fighting for positions. We want to broaden the pool of players we have to choose from. The team we have selected is a very good side and we are looking at this tour as part of the preparations for the World Cup in India in 2023.”
While the India tour also comprises three T20s, which will be played in Kolkata on February 16, 18 and 20, Haynes’ panel has opted to wait for the England series to finish before picking the squad.
West Indies ODI squad: Kieron Pollard (captain), Fabian Allen, Nkrumah Bonner, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran, Kemar Roach, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Hayden Walsh Jr
England players deserve medals, not criticism after getting through Ashes series
Speaking in Barbados, where he is standing in for Chris Silverwood as head coach during England’s T20I series against West Indies, and on the island where he became England’s first ever World Cup-winning captain, Collingwood spoke explicitly on the realities of life in the bubble, and fears that the long-term impact of the pandemic on cricketers may be severely damaging.
“I don’t think people have understood the impact and the effects that these bubbles have had,” Collingwood said. “Going to the Ashes off the back of a tough bubble in Dubai, I think was literally one step too far.
“You can’t even explain what it’s like until you experience it. The simple fact is you cannot walk out of your front door and as soon as you’re told that you cannot do something as simple as going for a coffee, and you are penned in with the same guys. A lot of people will say ‘that must be fun’ and ‘you’ve got a lovely hotel’ [but] it hits you.
The England players underwent strict quarantine on the Gold Coast, and managed only two full days of match practice going into the first Test in Brisbane. Rory Burns’ golden duck set the tone for a dismal series as England were bowled out for 147 on the first day and went on to lose 4-0, hanging on for a draw in Sydney while nine wickets down.
Despite England’s hammering, Collingwood stressed that England were facing an impossible task. “I reckon if you had given us the best England cricketers in the Ashes from the last 100 years and put them in the same environment that those boys have lived in over the past two years with the preparation that we had going into this Ashes even they wouldn’t have had a chance,” he said.
Collingwood was part of the England squad that won the 2010-11 Ashes down under and understands precisely the physical and mental levels required to compete in Australia. He retired from international cricket after that winter and since then, England have failed to win a Test match in Australia, across 15 attempts.
Collingwood was part of a group alongside Silverwood, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Woakes and Mark Wood that spent six weeks in a bubble in the UAE, before flying to Australia for their quarantine period on the Gold Coast and insisted that the lack of meaningful preparation only compounded the situation.
And while he admitted that England made mistakes at the toss and in selection, he said that players should be praised for the efforts they had made in getting through the series in a strict environment, suggesting that Cricket Australia should have agreed to a compromise rather than packing five Tests into a short window during the pandemic.
“You are burnt out from the start after your team has been in the intense environment of a World Cup,” he said. “It wasn’t club cricket that these players were coming from. Then there’s just two days of preparation before going into the Ashes. Australia is the hardest place to go to when you’ve got your best team in form and everyone’s playing consistently. We’ve seen that from the past.
“Yes, we made mistakes, 100%. We made selection mistakes, we made toss mistakes, but the fact we actually turned up and agreed to a five-match Ashes series, the guys should be given medals for that. It would’ve been much better if we’d done two matches and then three next year. That would’ve been a great compromise.
“But no, Australia were not bothered that they were going to receive an England team who were mentally fatigued, they just wanted to get the product out there. They just wanted the Ashes. These guys deserve medals, not criticism. They should be told ‘well done’ for even going. It’s the equivalent of the England football team being asked to go to a World Cup, then from that bubble into the Euros. Would you expect a performance from that scenario? It’s ludicrous.”
Ahead of another hectic schedule for England in 2022, which includes tours to West Indies, Netherlands, Pakistan and Australia, as well as a jam-packed home summer and another T20 World Cup in October, Collingwood hopes that at least in England, they can operate without bubbles, but fears that the damage may already have been done – not just for England players but also for cricketers around the world.
“I almost think it is too late to get these messages across,” he said. “These sorts of things should have been brought out in the middle of last summer. We saw the signs then when boys were fading, and it is not healthy for the game. This isn’t just us. We have obviously played the most amount of cricket, but it will catch up with other teams as well.”
Aadam Patel is a freelance sports reporter who has written for BBC Sport, the Daily Mail, ESPNcricinfo, the Cricketer and other publications @aadamp9
Under-19 World Cup – UAE get past Uganda in low-scoring thriller in Plate quarter-final
le Roux stars for Ireland in their win over Canada
United Arab Emirates 127 for 9 (Smith 25, Musinguzi 3-21, Baguma 3-29) beat Uganda 123 all out (Lutaaya 25, Shetty 4-29) by one wicket
Shetty was among the wickets early in the game when he got the first wicket of the day, dismissing Uganda opener Ronald Opio for 12. Nilansh Keswani struck from the other end, and the three wickets had reduced Uganda from 30 for no loss to 39 for 3. Ronald Lutaaya (25) and Uganda captain Pascal Murungi (23) then added 35 for the fourth wicket, but once Shetty broke the partnership, the rest of the wickets quickly followed. Shetty himself took two more, while Aayan Afzal Khan took two lower order wickets to set themselves a 124-run target.
A 43-run opening stand for between top-scorer Kai Smith (25) and Dhruv Parashar gave UAE a solid start in the chase, but Uganda spinners Joseph Baguma (3-29) and Matthew Musinguzi (3-21) ran through the UAE batting line-up to have them reeling at 82 for 7. Aayan, the No. 9, scored a 38-ball 22 to take UAE closer to the target, but when the ninth wicket fell, the side was still nine runs away from victory. However, Shetty and Jash Giyanani (4*) held on to pip Uganda in a low-scoring thriller.
Ireland 179 all out (le Roux 83*, Gibson 3-36) beat Canada 85 all out (Wilson 3-18, Forbes 2-2, McGuire 2-13) by 94 runs
Le Roux made an unbeaten 83 in 107 balls for Ireland, a clear outlier in the match where the second-highest score from either team was 25. His innings of 12 fours lifted Ireland to 179, after which a combined Irish bowling performance left Canada all out for a sub-100 score.
Ireland seamer Reuben Wilson pegged Canada back early in the chase when he dismissed both openers cheaply. Liam Doherty then reduced Canada to 12 for 3, and by the time Nathan McGuire removed Gurnek Johal Singh, Canada were 41 for 5. Kairav Sharma displayed brief resistance in his 30-ball stay of 19 but two wickets for Jamie Forbes and Wilson’s third scalp ended Canada’s innings on 85 in the 30th over.
Le Roux, the Ireland No. 5, walked in at 34 for 3 in the first innings and stayed unbeaten right till the end. He put on 33 with the captain Tim Tector for the fourth wicket, but a flurry of wickets at the other end had Ireland struggling at 90 for 7. However, a 48-run eighth-wicket stand between le Roux and Forbes (25) took Ireland closer to 140, and a 37-run ninth-wicket stand with Muzamil Sherzad (13) took Ireland to 179.
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