In the midst of a gruelling Ashes series and the wake of a World Cup semi-final exit, Australia have already begun preliminary planning for next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
Aaron Finch, Australia’s T20 and ODI captain who is back in Australia preparing for the start of Victoria’s domestic season, revealed he has had recent discussions with coach Justin Langer and the team hierarchy, about which group of players will likely be needed in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup next October.
Australia have never won the men’s T20 World Cup, or even hosted it. They finished runners-up to England in 2010. They are scheduled to played six T20 internationals at home in October and November against Sri Lanka and Pakistan followed by three in New Zealand in late March and three more on a tour of South Africa in February.
There will be no domestic T20 between now and the matches against Sri Lanka and Pakistan although a number of players not involved in the Ashes have been playing in the T20 Blast in England, and Australia’s revamped 50-over domestic competition starts on September 21. Finch said that the team hierarchy, now coordinated under Australia’s new general manager of national teams Ben Oliver, has a rough idea of which players will be set for the T20 World Cup, based on informal chats he’s had with the selectors recently. But form in the Marsh One-Day Cup, he added, could play a part.
“[I’ve had] some pretty brief chats over the last couple of weeks, pretty much just trying to nut out a squad that we think can take us through to the World T20 in October and November,” Finch said.
“Whether there are 24 or 25 players that we think can play a role in different scenarios, it’s just about making sure that we’re on the same page in our thinking in terms of selection and stuff like that. Of course, there’s always curve balls, guys who turn up and play well and start the season will really push.
“There’s a lot of T20s coming up over the next 8-10 months, so the fact that guys have got more, and I suppose, longer exposure to limited-overs cricket, whether it be one-day or T20 I think it’s a really good thing. No doubt there’ll some guys who jump out of box and really put their hand up for those sides.”
ESPNcricinfo understands some players have already been told they are in calculations for the T20 internationals in October and the T20 World Cup next year.
Australia began long-term plans for the 2020 T20 World Cup in early 2017 when Ricky Ponting took over as assistant coach to Darren Lehmann in a bid to build towards the tournament. Ponting helped the squad, captained by David Warner, to a T20 tri-series win over New Zealand and England in March 2018, just prior to the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Ponting then stepped back from the T20 role in the wake of the scandal citing that new coach Langer should take charge of the team in all three formats for continuity, as Australia tried to rebuild its culture within the men’s team. Ponting returned to the coaching group for the 2019 World Cup.
Finch took over as captain and had a tough initiation losing four straight series before leading the side to a share of the series against India at home and an impressive 2-0 success in India in January. Intriguingly though, that side did not feature Australia’s vice-captain Alex Carey, who subsequently had an outstanding 50-over World Cup, as Peter Handscomb kept wicket and Glenn Maxwell starred with the bat.
The revamped domestic 50-over competition is another key plank of Australia’s planning. The tournament is no longer played in a single month-long block on suburban club grounds in September-October prior to the Sheffield Shield season starting. It will now run deep into November with some games played in between Shield fixtures.
“I think it is a really good thing,” Finch said. “In the past having it as a full block, for a lot of players, with there not being any one-day cricket from the end of the one-day comp through to mid-January, it can be tough to really select guys and guys to put their name forward who did have a good one-day comp because it’s so far apart. So this year I think the balance is as good as it’s been for a long time now.
Cricket Australia also made a concerted effort to schedule domestic 50-over games back on international venues to give players more exposure to those venues. Finch said this was crucial to prepare players for international cricket.
“I think it’s huge,” he said. “To turn up for Australia and having guys not having played a game at international venues it’s surprising at times but it’s also part of the scheduling. So I think that is a great addition, that there will be more one-day games.
“Guys will have more access to playing one-day cricket on the main venues, which at the end of the day when you’re pushing for selection for Australia and you finally get the call up to come to a ground where you’ve played before and you feel comfortable is really important. There’s a lot of nerves that go around when you’re lining up for Australia for the first time so as comfortable as you can make it around the environment is really important.”