'We can match it with the best in the world': Aussies ready to rumble
The Men’s T20 World Cup remains the one available limited-overs trophy Australia have not collected in their illustrious history in the game.
Despite their star power, they do not go into the tournament among the favourites thanks to a lean 2021 that has seen them slide to seventh on the MRF Tyres ICC T20I team rankings.
A confident Finch said on Wednesday he was not too concerned about the team’s detractors, encouraging his outfit to end Australia’s long wait for trophy success at the tournament.
“We understand that we haven’t played our best in these tournaments,” he said ahead of the team’s flight to the United Arab Emirates. “We’ve had an interrupted preparation like everyone has over the last 18 months. We’re still very confident though.
“We know that if we play at our best we’re going to be hard to beat, we can match it with the best in the world.
“We feel as though our squad is well rounded, we’ve got options to play different combinations, different structures to the side, so there’s definite motivation but we’ve just got to be at our best at the right time.”
One man currently playing his best cricket is Maxwell, who has made three consecutive fifties in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Given Maxwell boasts the second-highest strike rate in T20 World Cup history (minimum 125 balls faced) – 160 – his form bodes well for Australia’s title ambitions.
“He is a world-class player, when he is on, he is as destructive as anyone in the world. He is someone who in World Cups has shown in the past, whether that’s T20 or 50-over, that he can win games for Australia off his own bat.
“When he is firing his bowling is really important and is going to be really important to the structure of our team. His fielding is the best in the world and his batting is unbelievable.
“He is a really important cog in our team. We’re really happy with how he is going.”
While Maxwell has enjoyed an encouraging IPL ahead of the T20 World Cup, the same cannot be said for Warner and Smith.
Warner has not been turned to by Sunrisers Hyderabad since posting scores of 0 and 2 when the IPL resumed in September, while Smith has also played just the two games, making 48 runs across two innings.
Finch is no doubt however that they will be central to Australia’s plans.
“He is one of the best players to have ever played the game for Australia,” Finch said, locking in his long-term opening partner to be there when Australia begin their tournament against South Africa. “While he would have loved to be playing for Hyderabad, no doubt, I know that he is still training away. He’ll be good to go.”
The captain confirmed Smith was a lock in a middle-order.
“What we’re going to do is be really flexible through that middle part of the game,” he said. “There is a lot of power there and there is a lot of ways we can go about it.
“He is a brilliant player of spin, he is someone who can adapt to all situations of the game, so we see that as a real asset for us.
“His game speaks for itself. The 360 nature of his game is really suited to our middle order. He is someone who will be in there, no doubt.”
In a boon for Australia, Finch is confident he will be fit in time for Australia’s two warm-up matches ahead of the tournament.
The skipper required knee surgery after Australia’s T20I series against West Indies, and was initially expected to be racing the clock for the T20 World Cup.
Fortunately, his recovery has been quicker than expected.
With much of the team coming together for the first time since the Australian summer, he expects the warm-up matches to be particularly important while backing the experience of the group to stand them in good stead either way.
“Training indoors or training in the nets, there’s no comparison to game intensity. The two warm-up games and the lead-in to the World Cup is going to be really crucial.
“They are going to be really important to get guys up to speed as quick as possible.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in the experience of the group. We’ve got guys who have come off long lay-offs before, we’ve got guys who have come off injury before, and it’s not really all that much different when you’re trying to get yourself up to speed quickly. That will play into their hands.”