Review ICC World Twenty20: Australia & West Indies.
From The ICC World Cup to The ICC Champions Trophy, from The Ashes to The Trans Tasman Trophy, from The Border-Gavaskar Trophy to The Frank Worrell Trophy, there might not be a tournament in the sport of Cricket which the mighty Australians have not won. Oh wait, there is. "The ICC World Twenty20". It has been 9 years and 5 editions since cricket's biggest reward of the shortest format has started. But Australia is yet to win one. They have reached the Semi-finals but have always been found lacking thereafter.
No matter how many times you miss them, opportunities just keep coming and that is the best part about them. The same is the scenario with Australia. The ICC World T20 2016 is another potential juncture for them to put their hands on the cup. Australia, currently ranked 5th in the ICC T20I rankings will start their campaign under the leadership of Steve Smith who was given the captaincy of the shortest format about a month ago. Smith, 26, replaced Aaron Finch as Australia's 8th T20I captain.
The squad for the world event is not short of big names but whether the big names will perform to their potential is where the big question lies. Let me start from where their batting order will start, i.e., the Openers. You need two of them in a game of cricket but they have four in their 15-member squad. David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson and Usman Khawaja are all inborn openers. But who will the management send during their first match vs New Zealand on March 18 in Dharamshala is another big question. David Warner was declared Man of the Series in his new role as a No. 4 batsman vs South Africa in the recently concluded series. So I don't see that changing. One out of Finch, Watson or Khawaja will have to miss out.
The openers will be followed by the skipper at No. 3. His T20I average of 20.47 may not be doing justice to his name. But we all know what Steve Smith is being doing from the past two years. Well, if you don't, 'scoring runs in bulk' is the answer. The swashbuckling Glenn Maxwell will take care of the No. 5 position which he has made his own in the shorter formats. But below down from here is where all the permutations and combinations will have to be applied. The Aussies have two fast-bowling all-rounders in Mitchell Marsh and James Faulkner. If both of them play, two out of fast-bowling quadruple of Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Coulter-Nile, John Hastings and Andrew Tye will be rested. This is not where the tangle ends. The catch is that the World Cup is being played in India. Where are the spinners?? For the moment, they have two young spinners in Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar in their line-up. The latter being a left-arm spinner and the former being a leg spinner with a better record on paper. Perhaps, he will get a look ahead of Agar.
The Australians may not have a settled squad as of now but they still can prove their dominance with the kind of talent they possess. Steve Smith and Darren Lehmann will have to take wise decisions when it comes to their bowling department. Not to forget, they also have a specialized wicket-keeper in Peter Nevill who was chosen ahead of Mathew Wade and Cameron Bancroft to provide protection behind the stumps. If things go well till the end unlike the previous five editions, Australia can definitely add the World Twenty20 trophy in their portfolio. But remember, "The things will have to go well."
The cricket team comprising of various island nations is currently the No. 2 side in the ICC T20I rankings. But neither their recent form nor their circumstances prove this. The recent years have not been the best for West Indies from any perspective. The players have had several issues with the WICB (West Indies Cricket Board). But let us not go in all that. And the same must be the mindset of Darren Sammy and his men at the moment. A World Cup has to be played. The team has been announced and subsequently all eyes and minds should be on cricket.
But the things which follow are again debatable. Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine withdraw from the world event followed by Darren Bravo. Pollard had not rehabilitated sufficiently from the knee injury he suffered last November. Narine, who had been banned from bowling in internationals in November last year due to a suspect action stated cited "insufficient progress in the rehabilitative work" on his action as the reason for his withdrawal while Bravo pulled out by stating he wanted to focus on Test cricket. If all this was not enough, Lendl Simmons was ruled out as well, courtesy, a back injury.
Now was the time for replacements. Johnson Charles, Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse and Evin Lewis were sent on the plane to UAE where the team had played a warm-up match vs Warwickshire.
West Indies always had the X-factor when it came to the shortest format of the game. But consistency was the big 'missing' factor. They had it in 2012 and were subsequently the Champions. But years since, it is again missing. They have the big-hitters. They have the brisk movers in the outfield. They probably have the most no. of all-rounders in their squad. It's just that all must put their acts together. One out of Andre Fletcher and Johnson Charles will partner the been around Chris Gayle at the top of the order. A lot would rely on how Gayle's tournament would go because someone of his capability can turn things around single-handedly. Not only Gayle, people like Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin and the captain, Darren Sammy will have to play in the top gear. They all have the reputation. It's just that they have to match it with performance on the field.
Another T20 specialist in Dwayne Bravo will not only form an integral part of the middle-order but also of the bowling attack. And also of the gangnam-style dance. He, alongwith Andre Russell and Jason Holder will have to perform dual duties. Another all-rounder, Carlos Brathwaite may have to accompany the bench during the initial phase of the tournament but can always be given a go. The experienced speedster and the leader of the bowling attack in Jerome Taylor will have to take care of the new ball as well as bowl in the death overs. West Indies have included Samuel Badree, Suliemann Benn and Ashley Nurse as specialist spinners and may play two of them depending upon the conditions.
The team as a whole is not short on famous names. What their fans must be awaiting will be if these famous names write a script to become big names. World cup winning names!