Gillette T20 INTL Series v Sri Lanka
Continuity key to T20 World Cup hopes: Finch
Ranked fifth in the world and having never won the T20 World Cup, Australia's skipper believes they've got the cattle to take out next year's silverware
Andrew Ramsey in Adelaide
25 October 2019, 05:06 PM AEST
It's a year and a day until their opening match of the men's T20 World Cup in Australia, but Aaron Finch believes the 14-player squad chosen for the start of this home summer will form the bulk of group selected for that campaign.
Finch, who will lead Australia into their international season opener against Sri Lanka in Adelaide on Sunday if fully recovered from a side strain, admits that injuries and form fluctuations will bring inevitable changes in personnel for the T20 outfit.
But having been part of a successful build-up for this year's ODI World Cup in the UK, where Australia surpassed pre-tournament expectations to reach the semi-finals, Finch believes continuity is a vital part of preparations.
And despite currently sitting fifth in men's T20 international rankings and having failed to win the T20 World Cup trophy at six previous attempts, Finch feels his team is better placed for next year's tournament than they were 12 months out from the 50-over World Cup.
For that reason, the limited-overs skipper is confident that the group picked to tackle three Gillette T20 internationals against Sri Lanka and three against Pakistan over the coming fortnight can challenge for the elusive silverware a year from now.
There's always that one mate who takes beach cricket way too seriously... @stevesmith49 🤦♂😂 pic.twitter.com/PUXw31vc46— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) October 25, 2019
"We know what style we want to go with over the next twelve months, so I think that makes it a little bit clearer to be able to map out how you go about that," Finch said in Adelaide today.
"So I expect that to be a little bit smoother (than the World Cup lead-in), and obviously with form and injuries and stuff, the personnel can change.
"But these 14 guys that we've got here, that's a plan to move forward with them over the next 12 months leading up to that (T20) World Cup.
"To form a really solid base of 14-16 players that can take us into that World Cup."
Both Finch and his men's captaincy predecessor Steve Smith noted today that Australia's T20 selection over past years had suffered somewhat due to the priority afforded the ultra-short format.
The pair claimed that the placement of past T20 internationals as curtain-raisers or post-scripts to series comprised of other formats meant key players were often rested from 20-over competition.
As an example, Smith's most recent T20 international was Australia's loss to host nation India in the 2016 World Cup tournament.
"We've seen the T20 format over the years is probably the format where guys have rested a lot," Smith said.
"And that will probably change leading into a World Cup I daresay.
"So I think it will be a great opportunity for the 14 guys picked here to have that continuity and try and form that bond together, and work towards hopefully all being part of a World Cup."
Finch also noted that the volume of T20 cricket the Australia men's team will play over the coming year, with more than 20 matches scheduled before the World Cup begins, also represents a point of difference from previous years.
With such a focus on the 20-over format, the Australia team brains trust can identify optimum plans and personnel for their tilt at the trophy which begins against Pakistan at the SCG on 24 October 2020.
One of the possibilities being explored in the current series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan is to employ specialist pace bowlers rather than rely on a number of seam-bowling all-rounders, as has been preferred in the recent past.
Asked this week about his exclusion from the current squad, Marcus Stoinis noted that the shift away from the use of allrounders was a calculated ploy by national selectors.
"I had a brief conversation with 'Cracker' (selection panel chair Trevor Hohns) and he just said they're not going for an allrounder in these T20 games coming up," said Stoinis, who played 17 of a possible 19 T20Is since 2018.
"They're coming up to a World Cup in about a year so they're going to mix and match a few things and try to figure out what their best balance is.
"I'm confident it will all settle by the time the World Cup comes around and hopefully my name is in there.
"Most T20 teams in the world play at least one or two or three allrounders.
"We'll just see what happens."
Finch said the decision to select five specialist pace bowlers – Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Billy Stanlake, Andrew Tye and Kane Richardson – for these series at the expense of seam-bowling allrounders did not constitute a major philosophical shift.
Rather, he claimed it was identifying specific roles for players during the coming six matches to provide as much flexibility as possible within the squad.
As such, left-arm spinner Ashton Agar takes on the role as premier allrounder which would allow for Australia to cover most bowling combinations and options depending on conditions presented at the start of the home summer.
"Ashton Agar is in there as an allrounder," Finch said.
"With that spin-bowling all-rounder, if we decide to play two spinners then we've still got the option of three genuine quicks.
"If we go without the leg-spinner (Adam Zampa), then you've still got four genuine quicks as well.
"I think it's just a bit of a change of mindset of balancing up a team."
Gillette T20 INTLs v Sri Lanka
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Billy Stanlake, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, David Warner, Adam Zampa
Sri Lanka squad: Lasith Malinga (c), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Niroshan Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka, Shehan Jayasuriya, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Oshada Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara, Isuru Udana, Kasun Rajitha
October 27: First T20I, Adelaide Oval, 2pm (Fox & Kayo)
October 30: Second T20I, Gabba, 6.10pm (Fox & Kayo)
November 1: Third T20I, MCG, 7.10pm (Fox & Kayo)
Gillette T20 INTLs v Pakistan
Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Shadab Khan, Usman Qadir.
November 3: First T20I, SCG, 2.30pm (Fox & Kayo)
November 5: Second T20I, Manuka Oval, 7.10pm (Fox & Kayo)
November 8: Third T20I, Perth Stadium, 4.30pm (Fox & Kayo)