Australia v Sri Lanka T20s

Australia's surprising Twenty20 dominance

Australians dominate list of highest T20 scores despite overall record being well down compared to other formats

Martin Smith

12 September 2016, 03:05 PM

By their own very high standards, Australia have under-performed in Twenty20 cricket since it was first launched on the international stage eleven-and-a-half years ago.

From the moment Australia and New Zealand played the first ever T20 international in February 2005, a match in Auckland that Ricky Ponting's side won by 44 runs, the Aussies have struggled to replicate their winning form from Test and 50-over cricket into the shortest form of the game.

Ponting tees off in the first ever T20 international // Getty Images

Not only have Australia misfired at the ICC World T20, the only major cricket trophy they are yet to win, their overall record in 20-over cricket is well below their numbers in Test and one-day cricket.

Of the 90 T20s Australia have played including that first game in Auckland in 2005, they have lost 41 of them for a losing percentage of 46 per cent, a vastly inferior number compared to their record in Tests (lost 35 of 129 matches or 27 per cent) and one-day international cricket (lost 86 of 297 matches or 29 per cent) in the same period.

A losing percentage of 46 in T20s places Australia sixth among all Test-playing nations, only marginally in front of England and ahead of both Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

But when it comes to standout individual performances with the bat in 20-over cricket, the Australians are top of the pile.

Glenn Maxwell's incredible innings of 145no against Sri Lanka last week means Australian batsmen now hold the top three highest individual scores in T20 international history.

Magic Maxi blasts away doubters with epic ton

Maxwell sits in second place behind teammate Aaron Finch, whose 156 against England in 2013 remains the international benchmark, with Shane Watson's 124no against India earlier this year earning him third spot.

In fact, an Australian has held top spot on the list of highest individual scores for more than five-and-a-half years in total, which is almost half of T20 international cricket's existence.

Ponting's unbeaten 98 in the very first encounter against New Zealand was the highest score for more than two-and-a-half years until Chris Gayle posted the first ever T20 century at the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, before Finch took over the mantle in 2013.

So what's to blame for Australia's underwhelming record in 20-over cricket over the course of a decade?

The amount of cricket scheduled for the next five months, or specifically the lack of it, helps to tell the story.

Watson hammers a T20 ton at the SCG

Australia's next T20 showdown will be a return bout against Sri Lanka at the end of the coming summer, with matches scheduled to be played in Melbourne, Geelong and Adelaide on February 17-22.

It comes after the Aussies played only one T20 match last year, a one-off contest against England in Cardiff, and played just 11 matches in total in the two years between the 2014 World T20 and the 2016 tournament.

And with T20 matches twice overlapping with tours in other formats (in November 2014 and February this year) the Aussies were forced to use a total of 36 different players in those 11 matches between T20 tournaments.

"I found it a really challenging format to captain," George Bailey, who led the T20 side between 2012 and 2014, told in June.

Finch record survives Maxwell masterclass

"Just because of the way it's so fragmented in terms of very rarely having access to the best team.

"You mainly get your team together for the World Cup, so you just get no continuity.

"It's very hard to actually remember who was in your team from the last game.

"So I ... found that quite frustrating."

Highest scores in T20 Internationals (progression)

  • 98no - Ricky Ponting, Australia (Feb 17, 2005 - 11 Sep, 2007)
  • 117 - Chris Gayle, West Indies (11 Sep, 2007 - 19 Feb, 2012)
  • 117no - Richard Levi, South Africa (19 Feb, 2012 - 21 Sep, 2012)
  • 123 - Brendon McCullum, NZ (21 Sep, 2012 - 29 Aug, 2013)
  • 156 - Aaron Finch, Australia (29 Aug, 2013 - present)

Australia's record since the first T20 International (Feb 17, 2005)

Tests P: 129 | W: 71 | L: 35 | T: 0 | D: 23 Winning percentage: 55.04 Losing percentage: 27.13

ODIs P: 297 | W: 193 | L: 86 | T: 2 | NR: 16 Winning percentage: 64.98 Losing percentage: 28.96

Twenty20s P: 90 | W: 46 | L: 41 | T: 2 | NR: 1 Winning percentage: 51.11 Losing percentage: 45.55

Meg Lanning Steve Smith