The selectors had a think. What’s working? What’s not working? And a few, who’s for the what’s.
Glen Maxwell wasn’t working mainly because he wasn’t getting a bowl. Just two solitary one over spells in the previous two games. Maxwell wasn’t making any runs because he wasn’t getting to the crease.
David Hussey, one of the premier 20 over cricketers in the world had been gathering backside splinters. He bats and bowls and knows the game so in a sudden death match they restored his status No matter that two weeks ago he was dropped for being in poor form and hadn’t appeared in tournament match.
Spin was king the previous night in the semi final between Sri Lanka and Pakistan but Australia were banking on 3 quicks Brad Hogg and Xavier Doherty. Doherty, the number 11 batsmen being preferred in the latter half of the tournament to Dan Christian’s all round bowling game and power hitting.
Despite the Australian management stating very clearly that they wanted continuity in the starting XI, they were making a number of alterations.
I’ve got no problem with changing your mind to suit changing conditions, and that certainly has been the case in Sri Lanka but there seems to be fundamental misunderstanding of what skills are needed to be effective in that changing environment.
The West Indies played the perfect game. Winning the toss and letting their batsmen set the imposing total was the cornerstone.
They made 205 through initial patience, Chris Gayle watched and waited and lingered and eventually pounced, he did not set about pounding the opening overs out of the park as David Warner tried to do against low bouncing spin.
Gayle’s approach was very different to that which he displays in IPL where he will try to hit 36 from the opening over. Maybe he now feels that playing for your country (region) is more important than turning out for the Royal Challengers even if the paycheque is somewhat smaller. There was no flippancy in this innings.
Sammy stuck with his slow bowlers for the full power play, Bailey used only one over from Doherty of which Gayle sent his second delivery 96 metres away.
Brad Hogg rejuvenated, unretired and reinstated is picked for 20/20 so he can bamboozle both right and left handers with either a near unpickable wrong ‘un of a big turning legspinner ie get the ball leaving the outside edge, more mishits will fall to the fieldsmen and the ‘keeper and occasional slip will get their chances.
The most effective bowlers in the Sri Lankan conditions have been the tricky spinners – Ajmal, Narine, Afridi and Mendis. Captain Bailey brought Hogg on in the 7th over with only one wicket down.
Chris Gayle didn’t get much strike early and made 50 off 29 balls. How does he do that? The boundaries came mostly as 6’s.
David Hussey’s return to the big time was not a happy one with bat or ball but having his first outing would not have helped.
Mickey Arthur and George Baily had made the initial mistake of leaving one of the best T20 players in the world out of the team and now they compounded the position by bringing him back severely underdone.
With Marlon Samuels joining Gayle the tempo jumped like a tachycardia patient’s heart rate on triple espressos and neither Baily or his bowlers could do much to staunch the flow.
Pat Cummins’ 150 kph Yorker was deflected with power and precision through midwicket for 4 by Gayle. There was very little wrong with the delivery nor with the Mitchell Starc’s opening salvo of the 19th which , thanks to Gayle’s warp 6 batspeed travelled flat over square leg for another Dorothy.
Arguably the biggest mistake of the night was throwing the ball to Doherty for the final over especially when the trickier Hogg had one left up his sleeve.
Doherty could not find a Yorker among the liquorice all sorts but plenty of full tosses. 25 runs later the Windies danced off he park. Gayle unbeaten and Australia more than likely the opposite. Hogg once again doesn’t bowl his full quota.
Has Captain Bailey been blinded by an allegiance to his fellow Tasmanian?
Left arm orthodox is exactly that – ORTHODOX, no doosra, no carom ball like an Iverson flicker or Gleeson mystery. Its finger spin or arm balls delivered at varying speeds and arcs.
Unfortunately the arc favoured Gayle’s lefties stance and Doherty lacked the courage to bowl slowly. He speared the ball in and gave both hitters speed to work with, when it landed.
Prematch Captain Bailey reckoned the Australian fielding would be the difference, he was partially right, they were terrible, but a hard uneven outfield didn’t make it easy.
Darren Sammy pulled all the right reins, his bowlers delivered and if Bailey had have been caught by Rampaul in a simple chance at long Australia would have struggled to make a 100.
Australia can rest assured that they have elevated their T20 ranking from 10 to 4 in a matter of a few weeks, but there is likely to be a serious culling of this national team if they are to head further up the ladder.
Now is the right time to draw a line in the sand and move forward with a new squad. Picking players in form would be a terrific place to start.
Captain Bailey’s late flurry in hopeless causes may camouflage his real worth to the team, but he is not in the top 20 Australian batsmen from last year’s Big Bash League.
Following the english system of picking a captain and then the team has, yet again, proven fatal. Perhaps a dedicated T20 coach with suitable credentials in tactics and team balance would also help the climb.