As cricket prepares for the T20 World Cup which starts in October, host nation Australia will be confident of landing their first-ever major title in this format. The element of home advantage plays a debatable role in Twenty20 but Aaron Finch’s side will have a noisy crowd behind them and, more importantly, they have the quality and depth of squad to succeed.
The most recent T20 series against South Africa, which ended with a 2-1 scoreline in favour of Finch’s tourists, would seem to back up that theory but there are some remaining issues that the selectors need to address.
That 2-1 outcome hints at a close series but while Australia lost narrowly in Port Elizabeth, their two victories came by the comfortable margins of 107 runs and 97 runs respectively. That would indicate that the batting order is in good shape but success was largely down to the bowling unit – a suggestion backed up by Man of the Match awards for Ashton Agar and Mitchell Starc.
The fact is, that while the top three of Finch, David Warner and Steve Smith are inked in for World Cup duty later this year, the middle order is far from certain. Matthew Wade and Mitchell Marsh came in at four and five respectively but neither were convincing and if opposition can claim three key wickets inside the first ten overs, Australia could be exposed at crucial times in the match.
Australia may be waiting for their first T20 World title but the hosts are favourites to lift the trophy on November 15th. The latest cricket betting odds from bet365 show Finch’s side with a narrow lead at odds of 11/4, just ahead of India at 7/2.
While the questions remain over the batting unit, Australia’s bowling attack is in much better shape. Much will depend on Starc and Pat Cummins maintaining their fitness in the lead up to the tournament and the hosts will offer better value in that outright tournament market if their twin spearhead is ready to fire.
Australia could put the impressive Marnus Labuschagne in at number four but T20 cricket doesn’t have much room for patient accumulators. Labuschagne could be considered as too similar to Steve Smith and his pedestrian strike rate in T20s of exactly 100.00 is an indicator as to why he’s yet to make his international debut in this format.
A far better alternative would be Glenn Maxwell if he is ready to make himself available after a spell away from the game. Elsewhere, many were surprised to see Marcus Stoinis left out of the squad for South Africa and while his performances in Australian gold had been subdued of late, his role as leading run scorer in the most recent Big Bash suggests he’s ready to return.
Australia can prove to be worthy favourites for the T20 World Cup, but the home nation will be in a better position to claim their first title if they can nail those key positions at four and five.