Australia's T20 World Cup opponents locked in
The ICC has split the eight top-ranked teams into two groups for the 2021 T20 World Cup in the Middle East, with the full schedule to be released at a later date
16 July 2021, 08:00 PM AEST
Australia have been grouped with England, South Africa and the West Indies along with two yet-to-be-determined qualifiers for this year's T20 World Cup in the Middle East.
The ICC has confirmed the groups for the seventh edition of the men's 20-over tournament, which will once again consist of two stages – the preliminary qualifier round and the Super 12s.
The first round will feature eight teams, split into two groups of four, who did not automatically qualify for the main part of the tournament. The top two from each of these groups – Sri Lanka, Ireland, the Netherlands and Namibia are in Group A while Bangladesh, Scotland, Papua New Guinea and Oman are in Group B – will then progress to the Super 12 stage.
Each group in the Super 12s already consists of four teams that automatically qualified due to their high ranking. Australia are in Group 1 along with England, South Africa and the West Indies, while India, Pakistan, New Zealand and Afghanistan are the top-ranked teams in Group 2.
The groups were picked based on the ICC T20 rankings from March 20 this year.
The winner of Group A and the runner-up in Group B from the first round will join Group 1 in the Super 12s, while the winner of Group B and runner-up of Group A will join Group 2.
Each team in the Super 12s will play the five other teams in their group, with the top two teams in each group then progressing to the semi-finals.
The full fixture for the tournament, which will run from October 17 until November 14 and be played in Oman and the United Arab Emirates, will be finalised at a later date.
Matches will be played in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and the Omani capital, Muscat.
Australia are currently ranked fifth in the world in T20s while England are ranked No.1, South Africa sixth and the Windies eighth.
Australia are currently trailing 3-1 in their five-game series against the Windies in the Caribbean (the series finale is on Saturday morning AEST), although the Australians are missing a host of their key players.
The Aussies last played England in T20s almost 12 months ago, losing a three-game series 2-1 in the UK.
Australia beat the Proteas 2-1 in their most recent T20 series, in South Africa in early 2020.
The story of the seventh men's T20 World Cup has been eventful long before a ball has even been bowled.
The tournament had been due to be held last year in Australia, but that was postponed to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. India was due to host the 2021 iteration, but the coronavirus catastrophe in that country forced it to be relocated to the Middle East.
"Given the disruption caused by COVID-19, we selected the cut-off date as close as possible to the event to ensure we were able to include the maximum amount of cricket in the rankings which determine the groups," said the ICC Acting Chief Executive Geoff Allardice in a statement.
"There is no doubt we will witness some highly competitive cricket when the event gets underway in just three months."
The T20 World Cup remains the one major piece of silverware the Australian men's team is yet to win, with the closest they've come being when they finished runners-up to England in 2010.
2021 T20 World Cup groups
Group A: Sri Lanka, Ireland, Netherlands, Namibia
Group B: Bangladesh, Scotland, Papua New Guinea, Oman
Group 1: England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, A1, B2
Group 2: India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan, B1, A2