Last night Australia closed out their World Twenty20 campaign with an easy win over hosts Bangladesh, but three preceding losses to Pakistan, the West Indies and India meant that this match was always going to be about restoring pride with the competition’s semi-finals out of reach.
The Aussies were anointed by many experts as one of the front runners to claim the one major international trophy that has so far eluded them, but having promised so much after a summer of undisputed glory, the season has finished in somewhat of a whimper for many fans.
Where did it go wrong?
Things certainly didn’t go to plan for Darren Lehmann’s team, and it all started with star paceman Mitchell Johnson’s pre-tournament withdrawal due an infected toe.
Although the Aussies’ pace contingent of Nathan Coulter-Nile, Doug Bollinger and Mitchell Starc toiled admirably, there is no telling what impact Johnson’s presence may have had given the current form he is in.
Australia’s first two games against Pakistan and the West Indies were both contests well within reach of victory. Some sloppy fielding and poor late innings batting against the former, and inconsistent death bowling versus the latter were the catalysts for two consecutive losses.
Individually the Aussies were nothing short of disappointing with star players such as Shane Watson (4 runs), Brad Haddin (29 runs), David Warner (91 runs) and George Bailey (35 runs) all failing to have an impact, while their ability to combat quality spin on the sub-continent will surely need to be an area of improvement for future tours.
The selectors took a bit of a gamble with veterans Brad Hodge and Hogg, and with the left-arm spinner Hogg playing only the one game after being overlooked for youngster James Muirhead, it is hard to see either pulling on the national shirt again.
Even the inclusion of Haddin, who had such a magic Ashes series, raised a few eyebrows after he was preferred to regular T20 keeper Matthew Wade, and his performances perhaps reflect a man who has had a monstrous couple of months and is in need of some time off.
Glenn Maxwell’s 75 runs from 48 balls against Pakistan was one of the best innings you are likely to see in 20 over cricket, and his overall consistency across the tournament proves ‘The Big Show’ is destined to wear Australian colours for years to come.
At the top of the order Aaron Finch was the only other batsman to come away from the tournament with his pride intact, and his 118 run stand with Maxwell in their opening game was a bright spot in an otherwise bleak campaign.
Australia’s early exit from the competition means this is the last international cricket we will see until June when the team travels to Zimbabwe for a three-match ODI series.
While many players will use the time to recoup and recover after an arduous couple of months, some will be straight back into action with the India Premier League and English County seasons on the horizon.
The selectors’ next point of call will be to start moulding a T20 squad that can build towards the next version of the tournament in 2016, which will be again held in the sub-continent, this time in India.
With the likes of Ben Cutting, Chris Lynn and Ben Dunk all heading to the IPL having performed well in the Big Bash League, now could be the perfect time to start making them permanent fixtures in the side.
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