Almost 100 days after it started, the international summer of cricket wraps up tomorrow night when Australia takes on ICC World Twenty20 champions the West Indies in a one-off KFC T20 INTL at the Gabba.
George Bailey’s men will be seeking a measure of revenge following their eviction at hands of Darren Sammy’s charges at the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka last October.
That day, Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels flayed the Aussie attack to all parts of R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo to set a mammoth 4-205 from their 20 overs.
This time though, both men are out injured to give an inexperienced Australia a much needed boost.
Australia can’t climb any higher than seventh on the ICC rankings even if they win tomorrow night, but a West Indies loss could see them drop to third if England sweep New Zealand across the ditch. Skipper Bailey has stated his desire to develop a stable squad ahead of the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh and will use next year’s tournament as motivation for the greener players in the team.
Ben Rohrer, who excelled in the red of the Melbourne Renegades during the KFC T20 Big Bash League, looks set to make his debut alongside Perth Scorcher Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Coulter-Nile six wickets in the Bupa Sheffield Shield at Gabba just days ago and was also a late call-up as cover for the last two matches of the Commonwealth Bank Series last week.
Queenslander Joe Burns is on standby for recent ODI centurion Adam Voges after the West Australian tweaked his hamstring notching a maiden hundred for Australia at the MCG on Sunday.
While the squad may look a little light on international experience, their BBL|02 form and claims to selection can’t be questioned.
The West Indies on the other hand have a more stable collective. Gayle and Samuels are big losses, but in Kieran Pollard, Sunil Narine and Dwayne Bravo, the Windies have experienced match winners right across the park.
Australia has already witnessed firsthand this summer just how destructive Pollard can be when he belted an unbeaten 109 in the recent Commonwealth Bank Series match in Sydney.
If his batting isn’t impressive enough, his fielding alone puts bums on seats.
Magnificent grabs right across the series – in particular in Canberra – showed how dynamic a talented big man can be in limited overs cricket.
With Gayle and Samuels unavailable, Pollard will likely need to lead from the front if the West Indies are to trouble Australia.
The Gabba is a T20 fortress for Australia, well, they’re 2-0 and have only played South Africa.
In what is usually a road up in Brisbane, the average T20 first-innings score in those two T20 internationals is a whopping 183.
If you include the three completed first-innings totals from BBL|02, that average dips to 167 - just above the global par score of 160 for the shortest form of the game.
The first three rounds of BBL|02 saw 12 victories from 12 games by teams chasing, so winning the toss and fielding might be the option for the successful captain.
Australia squad: George Bailey (c), Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh, Adam Voges, Ben Rohrer, Brad Haddin (wk), Ben Cutting, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Clint McKay, Ben Laughlin, Josh Hazlewood.
West Indies squad: Darren Sammy (c), Dwayen Bravo, Darren Bravo, Tino Best, Johnson Charles, Narsingh Deonarine, Chris Gayle. Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Thomas
Tickets are still available for the final blockbuster of 2012-13 from ticketmaster.com.au.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 12 February, 2013 5:41PM AEST