Australia bring imposing aura to T20 World Cup in hunt for historic treble | Australia cricket team

Australia will again be hoping that familiarity breeds success as they aim to complete the set of ICC silverware at the T20 World Cup in the US and Caribbean. To put the finishing touches on the historic haul, the current men’s ODI World Cup and World Test Championship titleholders have turned to an experienced squad that has been key to the glory days, though this time will be under the guidance of Mitch Marsh in his first major tournament as captain.

The 15-player squad includes nine from the XI that lined up in the T20 World Cup final three years ago when Australia broke New Zealand hearts to clinch what remains the men’s only triumph from eight attempts. The concern is that much the same group of players were unable to hit similar heights when failing to progress past the group stage on home soil a year later. Travis Head and Nathan Ellis are the only fresh faces this time around.

Australia resisted the urge to include young tyro Jake Fraser-McGurk in the squad for his senior tournament and T20I debuts, but Head has already proven to be the most critical addition to the first-choice XI in all formats. The 30-year-old’s swashbuckling batting led Australia to victory – and earned him player of the match awards – in the World Test Championship and ODI World Cup finals last year, and it would be little surprise if he made a similar impact throughout this T20 campaign.

Head stamped his T20 credentials with the fourth-most runs – 567 amassed at a blistering strike-rate of 191.55 – in the recent Indian Premier League, although opening partner David Warner showed further signs of merely hanging on in the fading twilight of his career while compiling only 168 runs in eight innings. Even if Australia are occasionally exposed at the top, a powerful middle-order of Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tim David and Marcus Stoinis should be enough to blow away their opponents.

Australia will have time to tinker with their batting line-up through the group stage, much as they did in the ODI World Cup in India last year, as they ease into the tournament with a match against Oman on 6 June. Arch-rivals England follow three days later before Marsh’s men face the unpredictable Namibia and steady Scotland to round out Group B. But the super eight stage starting on 20 June is when the heavyweights showdowns are most likely to begin, with the final to be held on 30 June.

“The one-day World Cup didn’t really feel like a World Cup until we got down to the business end of it, so it’s a little bit the same here,” Head said. “You want to be winning every game. [But] you want to be peaking at the right time, so for us, we start tomorrow [against Oman], but also we want to do the right things, get to the super eights and be peaking in the back end.

“I think we did that really well in the one-day tournament. We want to be firing at the right time. We want to get everything right in these first few games and make sure we’re in the right position to accelerate in the back half of the tournament.”

Travis Head at a press conference before Wednesday’s opener in Bridgetown. Photograph: Matthew Lewis-ICC/ICC/Getty Images

Spinners are expected to play a crucial role across the tournament and especially in Australia’s venue for the two opening matches in Barbados, where white-ball specialist Adam Zampa will be a useful option to open the bowling or close out an innings, and Head, Maxwell and perhaps Ashton Agar will lend valuable support. Formidable pace trio Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood have blazed a trail of wickets across much of the past decade, but fresh challenges await in unfamiliar surroundings with the Test and ODI skipper still yet to even play an international in any format in the Caribbean.

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While form can often seem especially fleeting in the shortest international format and Australia do not always make T20Is their highest priority outside of tournaments, they have been building their options and pedigree as the focus shifted since the start of this year. A 2-1 series victory against West Indies on home soil while handing opportunities to several young prospects was followed by a 3-0 whitewash in New Zealand in late February, while an undermanned Australia warmed up in the Caribbean with a six-wicket win over Namibia and a 35-run defeat to West Indies.

Australia might have only won the men’s T20 World Cup once in eight attempts but, as became increasingly apparent at the ODI World Cup last year, always carry an imposing aura into international tournaments. While no nation has held all three men’s ICC titles at once, let alone considering that Australia’s all-conquering women’s outfit also have a firm grip on their ODI World Cup and T20 World Cup crowns, the current squad has the runs on the board to be trusted to now entrench their legacy and lay down another marker to be considered among the all-time greats.


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