England v Australia T20Is - Men's
Middle men in focus ahead of second T20
Batters playing "hardest" role to get extended run as Aussies look to level T20 series against England
6 September 2020, 09:39 AM AEST
Pat Cummins says a limited-overs finisher in the mould of MS Dhoni will not be unearthed overnight, pleading patience with Australia's middle-order after a late stumble cost them victory in their T20 series-opener against England.
The Aussies head into the second T20 in Southampton (11.15pm AEST Sunday, live on Fox Cricket and Kayo) fresh off just their second loss from their past 11 T20 Internationals on Friday. But despite their recent success, Australia's middle order in the shortest format remains a work in progress.
Marcus Stoinis (23 not out) was left holding the bag after they fell two runs short but David Warner, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey all missed their chance to ice the game in a match-defining collapse of 4-9 in 13 balls.
Coach Justin Langer said before the series Stoinis' best role is at the top of the order, having had a dominant Big Bash season opening for the Melbourne Stars last summer. The fact he has been squeezed into a finishing role instead is a familiar issue for the Aussies.
Jono Wells, Dan Christian and the now-retired George Bailey (on tour as Australia's head selector) are among the standout BBL middle-order players in recent seasons, while Ben McDermott, Ashton Turner and Peter Handscomb have all been given opportunities in those positions for Australia's T20 team in the last 18 months.
Cummins pointed out the Australian squad is heavy on players who bat in the top three for their domestic teams.
"They're all the best players when they go back and play the domestic comps," Cummins told reporters via video link.
"You could argue that (batting in the) middle order is one of the hardest (roles) in any cricket. That's what we've identified, is that we've got to give guys a go in that (middle order).
"Someone like MS Dhoni, he was the best in the world at it because he played three or four hundred ODI games … We know it's not going to happen overnight.
"That's been a common theme that the selectors and Finchy (captain Aaron Finch) have spoken about. We've identified roles and want to give them a long run in that. We've got the right squad, it's just about getting plenty of games into everyone."
Marnus Labuschagne, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Marsh and Josh Philippe are the reserve batters/allrounders in the limited-overs squad.
Marsh has extensive experience in the middle for both Australia and the Perth Scorchers, but Wade and Philippe both open for their BBL teams while Labuschagne has only played 10 domestic T20s in his career.
Cummins says players have been designated particular roles and expects the current crop of middle-order batters to get a decent chance to prove themselves.
"We've got a few other guys in the squad over here who are identified for that middle order, so I'd say more than likely those guys are going to get a long run," he said.
"We're pretty happy with our combinations, it's worked pretty well for us over the last couple of years. It’s just about slotting those guys into those roles."
2020 Tour of England
Australia's T20 and ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Daniel Sams, Kane Richardson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa
England T20I squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow, Tom Banton, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood. Reserves: Liam Livingstone, Saqib Mahmood
England ODI squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow, Tom Banton, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood. Reserves: Joe Denly, Saqib Mahmood