ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2021
Bangladesh, Windies between Aussies and a semi-final spot
Australia were comprehensively outplayed by a 'settled' England side in their T20 World Cup clash, but Aaron Finch was having none of suggestions Australia's stars don't play enough T20 cricket together
31 October 2021, 08:05 AM AEST
Shane Watson believes Australia's best T20 players don't play enough games together, but captain Aaron Finch refused to make excuses for their crushing World Cup loss to England.
The Aussies may well need to win four consecutive games if they hope to lift the men's showpiece T20 trophy for the first time after Jos Buttler singlehandedly destroyed their net run-rate with an incredible innings that Eoin Morgan believes is a sign of how the right-hander is at the "forefront of change" in cricket.
Australia's immediate concerns are more basic after four of their top five batters were dismissed for single-figures inside the first seven overs of the game and the four bowlers they identified as their primary weapons at the tournament's outset all went at nine-per-over or worse in the eight-wicket battering.
While Morgan stressed his side have rarely been at full strength in T20s in recent years, Watson suggested a "settled" England side had exposed Australia on Saturday evening (Sunday morning AEDT) in Dubai.
A Test tour to South Africa last February was scheduled to coincide with a T20 tour of New Zealand, ruling out Australia's all-format players from the white-ball matches, even when the Test series was cancelled due to coronavirus concerns.
A host of leading T20 players then also missed Australia's most recent T20 campaigns in July-August, most due to bubble fatigue, resulting in a second-string team winning just two out of 10 matches against West Indies and Bangladesh.
In a curious twist of fate, those two sides now stand between Australia and a semi-final berth.
"They're definitely must-wins," said Finch ahead of the games against Bangladesh (on Thursday) and the Windies (Saturday). "The net run rate took a hammering tonight, we're going to have to be at our best again."
Fewer than half of the 15 players eventually chosen for the World Cup played in the back-to-back series in Dhaka and St Lucia.
Mitch Marsh was the only player to advance his prospects and started the World Cup batting at No.3 on the back of his form during those series, yet the 30-year-old was a surprise omission for the England match as left-arm spinner Ashton Agar was recalled.
Finch admitted their gamble of going in a batter light against England backfired.
"Clearly when you go three (wickets) down in the Powerplay, it's not an ideal scenario when you go in with that structure (of a) team," said Finch, who top-scored with 44 off 49 balls after his side had slumped to 4-21.
"The reason Agar was in there was that we felt like he was a really good match-up for England, his ability to bowl in the Powerplay and the middle overs in the past against England has been really good.
"We just felt that was the way to go tonight and it was not a reflection on how Mitch is going at all, it was purely just a match-up thing for this game."
Watson, one of the best limited-overs players Australia has ever produced, was adamant his former side's loss was the sign of a wider issue in the shortest format.
Asked why Australia's leading lights do not play more T20 cricket together, the star former allrounder said: "That's a question I've been asking for the last 10-12 years. It doesn't make sense.
"The only way you're going to play really well as a team is (by) playing together, like England have been doing (and) like India do.
"When you come up against a team that have got every base covered like England, that's when teams get exposed… and Australia have been very exposed tonight."
But Finch denied a lack of familiarity amongst his charges, insisting that "the majority of us have played a lot of cricket together over the years, whether it's over different formats. 'No' is the simple answer to that."
2021 Men's T20 World Cup
Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa. Travelling reserves: Dan Christian, Nathan Ellis, Daniel Sams
Super 12 stage
Group 1: England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh
Group 2: India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Scotland, Namibia