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Can Australia’s ‘GOATed’ golden core immortalize itself further?

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Last updated on 05 Jun 2024 | 09:04 AM
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Can Australia’s ‘GOATed’ golden core immortalize itself further?

This group will be making a serious claim for being the undisputed best team of all time if they manage to win the T20WC

Two 50-over World Cup titles ✔️

World Test Championship mace ✔️

T20 World Cup trophy ✔️

Keeping hold of the urn for 7+ years, having retained The Ashes twice in England ✔️

Regardless of what happens in the forthcoming T20WC, this particular Australian team is guaranteed to go down as one of the greatest sides to have ever played this sport. 

This group is in the ‘GOAT” debate already, but will be making a serious claim for being the undisputed best of all time if they manage to win the T20WC this year and then follow it up by pocketing the Champions Trophy in 2025. 

It’s an overly ambitious thought, but it’s precisely this kind of ambition — the inner drive to set the bar higher and higher — that has made this golden Australian core the juggernaut it is. 

There is no denying that this T20WC is shaping up to be a very open one, with there being no clear-cut favorite for the title, but boy it’d take an extremely courageous person to boldly claim that Australia won’t get the job done here in the Caribbean & USA too, like they tend to do everywhere.

What can win them the trophy?

a) Experience and  b) presence of match-winners throughout the squad

Australia’s biggest strength, without question, is the experience they possess. It’s a team filled with veterans who know when to turn up the heat because they’ve all been there and done that. It’s a group filled with serial winners, to the extent that ‘winning’ runs in their blood. 

Look no further than their last two white-ball triumphs. In both the T20WC 2021 and 50-over World Cup in 2023, Australia were not the best side when the group stages concluded. Yet the big players clutched up during the knockouts and powered the team all the way to the title. On both occasions, it was their experience that got them over the line. Experience of not just having been in big matches, but actually having won a lot of them. 

Australia’s second-biggest strength — which is almost on par with the first — is the fact that their first XI consists of match-winners from one to eleven. We’re not talking about players with ‘x-factor’ but individuals capable of single-handedly winning matches of cricket. 

In the 50-over World Cup eight months ago, there was not a single match for Australia in which everything clicked at the same time. But it didn’t matter. Every single game, they had one individual playing out of his skin, with the rest doing just about enough. They won the title with this unintentional tactic. 

So even if there are two, three or four players out of form, write this Australian team off at your own peril.

What can potentially cost them?

Their batting against spin on surfaces that turn / are slow

If we have to nitpick one potential weakness in this Australian unit, it’s the top-order’s batting against spin. 

It’s no secret that David Warner, Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh all prefer pace to spin. Especially Marsh and Head. So it could get tricky for the Kangaroos should the wickets in the Caribbean prove to be slow and aid spin. 

In all T20s since 2022, Head has averaged just 21.82 vs spin as compared to 35.45 against pace. Marsh’s strike rate against the tweakers (127.8) during the same period is significantly worse than his SR against the quicks (156.8). Marsh’s SR against spin immediately after the powerplay (overs 7-12), where he is likely to bat a lot, is in fact worse: a paltry 123.81. 

Even Warner has not been at his fluent best against spin since last year, striking at just 128.6 in the middle-overs. 

There is hence a potential avenue for opposition sides to strangle the Aussie top three with spin. That will put a lot of pressure on the middle-order, especially Glenn Maxwell, to deliver. 

Things to watch out for 

> Mitchell Marsh’s bowling fitness and his captaincy

> Glenn Maxwell and David Warner’s form

> Who starts among Josh Inglis and Matthew Wade

> If and how Australia try to fit Ashton Agar in the XI 

Tactical MVP

Maxwell, despite his horrendous showing in IPL 2024. What makes Maxwell invaluable is not his x-factor with the bat in the middle-order but that he is genuinely a frontline option with the ball. Take Maxwell away and you completely disrupt Australia’s balance because he is essentially two players in one. Losing Maxwell will mean Australia will *have* to play Agar, which will mean them sacrificing either a pacer or a batter. 

Likely starting XI

For Australia, 10/11 players pick themselves. The only question is who among Inglis/Wade gets the nod. At this point, it might be Inglis due to his prowess against spin. Also, in games in which the Kangaroos feel the need to play Agar, Tim David might miss out.

Australia likely XI: Travis Head, David Warner, Mitchell Marsh (capt), Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Josh Inglish (wk), Tim David, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa

Group games schedule

Australia vs Oman, June 5, Barbados

Australia vs England, June 8, Barbados

Australia vs Namibia, June 11, Antigua

Australia vs Scotland, June 15, St Lucia

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