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Australia hopes for a simple title defense after a contentious run-in


Australia’s T20 preparation has been contradictory. Tim David will replace Steven Smith from the last T20 World Cup at the SCG (weather permitting).

While that suggests stability, much else suggests a less-than-ideal buildup. It’s included injuries to Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Agar, and Kane Richardson, a week-long trip to India, the debate over David Warner’s captaincy ban, the appointment of Pat Cummins as ODI captain, and the debate over one of Australia’s leading sponsors.


Adam Zampa: Australia’s World Cup opener will get things going.


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Josh Inglis was cut seriously when an old golf club snapped in his grasp on the second hole at La Perouse in Sydney. In itself, it is not the most serious injury the squad could have had on the eve of the tournament (Inglis wouldn’t have been in the starting XI), but it created an awkward question about who should replace him and its ramifications (Warner as wicket keeper, perhaps?). Inglis was a versatile batsman.

On the pitch, Australia would have lost 3-0 to England if not for rain in Canberra. Aaron Finch commented on the squad’s tiredness following the long buildup. Several players felt they had matches they didn’t need, but there were lingering form issues. Finch struck important runs against India at the Gabba.

Australia vs. England, 2nd T20I, Canberra, 12 Oct. 2022

It’s unknown if Mitchell Marsh will bowl against New Zealand.

Glenn Maxwell has yet to make a meaningful contribution with the bat this season, but he is expected to do so when it matters.

Head coach Andrew McDonald said the buildup appears different on the inside than the exterior. “We must prepare the players for the first game.”

What’s absorbed us the most has been injured players returning, and you’ve seen in the lead-up that we’ve had to not take certain players to certain matchups because of injury risks, so that’s been our big conversation to get the eleven men who will play that first game to the start line. The medical staff did well. We’ve experienced internal battles, not just external ones.

Marsh (ankle) and Stoinis (side) injuries were significant to Australia’s buildup, since their overs are vital to balancing the side with seven hitters and four bowlers. McDonald admitted losing one or both all-rounders “was real” for a spell in recent weeks, leading to Cameron Green’s extended use at the top of the order and Finch batting in the middle. In the end, Green replaced Inglis.

Marsh may not be ready to bowl in the opening game against New Zealand, and there are questions over Stoinisability to back up in a short schedule, especially with travel included. Maxwell’s bowling and batting balance their side.

Despite that, Australia’s predicted XI appears powerful. David has added power and finishing ability to the middle order, Warner has played some sparkling innings leading up to the tournament, Marsh still looks at home at No.3, and it’s hard to pick holes in the four frontline bowlers, with Adam Zampa and Josh Hazlewood particularly dominant in the format.

Tim David scored 42 off 20 balls for Australia against West Indies in Brisbane on October 7, 2022.

T20 World Cup will test Tim David’s finishing skills

McDonald said Smith may have a role in the competition despite being left out of the starting XI. McDonald is convinced that others can fill Smith’s ‘Mr. Fix-It’ role if Australia is in early problems against the new ball.

“Hitters” have more skills than just hitting the ball over the ropes, he noted. They have power and craft.

All this doesn’t include Saturday’s opponents, the well-drilled New Zealand team, who were finalists last year and have a great record in global tournaments. They haven’t beaten Australia in any format at home since 2011. The hosts may not mind starting against them.

After a lengthy, bumpy buildup, the SCG matters. Rain and a shorter game add risk. No men’s team has defended the T20 World Cup, therefore mistakes are costly.

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