UAEn’t seen nothing yet
On Monday Cricket Australia announced both the ODI and T20 squads that will head to the UAE in a little over a month for three ODIs and three T20s against Pakistan, but before those games the tour will kick off with an ODI against Afghanistan.
Ok, before I get to the squads themselves, lets look at Afghanistan. This will be the first time Australia and Afghanistan have met head-to-head in any format, and only the second test nation that Afghanistan will have faced in the ODI arena, after they took on (and lost to) Pakistan in February this year. Against other associate nations, they’ve had mixed results – 12 wins to go with 9 losses.
Why is this important? Because I believe that for associate nations like Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands and so on, the more games they can get in against the best sides in world cricket the better they will eventually become – I know what you’re saying, that this theory hasn’t panned out so well for Bangladesh, but they are improving (slowly). Specifically if you look at two year periods over the last decade they are improving. Win percentages have improved (presumably against better opponents as time goes on) from 0% in 2000-02 up to 45% 2010-12 (0%, 5%, 27%, 42%, 37%, 45%). In comparison Afghanistan’s success record in the last 5 years is just a touch above 50%, albeit against ‘lesser’ opponents.
The ODI Squad
David Warner, Matthew Wade, Michael Clarke [c], George Bailey, Callum Ferguson, Michael Hussey, David Hussey, Daniel Christian, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Johnson, Xavier Doherty, James Pattinson, Clint McKay, Mitchell Starc
Watson has been left out, presumably to give him a little extra time to recover from injury. Peter Forrest is gone after really struggling against England. Mike Hussey returns in both forms after missing the UK tour for family reasons. After almost 18 months out of the side Callum Ferguson is back, as is all-rounder Dan Christian who wasn’t taken to the UK. Mitchell Starc is the beneficiary of Brett Lee’s international retirement (and the omission of Hilfenhaus and Cummins). The surprise inclusion is Glenn Maxwell, who has recently shown some good form on the county cricket stage. Warner will be vice-captain in Watson’s absence.
Given the tour opens against Afghanistan I’d probably expect the likes of Maxwell, Ferguson and Johnson to at least get the early game under their belt. Johnson only played one game on the UK tour, and it was a little erratic, but he’s got the Australia A tour coming up to find some consistency.
The T20 Squad
David Warner, Shane Watson, Matthew Wade, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, George Bailey [c], Cameron White, Daniel Christian, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Hogg, Xavier Doherty, Clint McKay, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Ben Hilfenhaus.
Watson, Hilfenhaus and Cummins will all be back in the squad after being rested for the ODI portion of the tour. Cameron White is back in the side he captained until he was dumped 7 months ago. His return is a result of his consistent run of good T20 form across both the IPL and Friends Life t20. Brad Hogg is back again after not going to the Caribbean earlier in the year (he was playing in Bangladesh, South Africa and India instead), but Nathan Lyon is now gone (still don’t quite understand why he can’t get into the national ODI and T20 squads, after all it was his limited over form that earned him his test call up to begin with).
Mitchell Johnson and James Pattinson don’t feature in the T20 squad, nor does Steve Smith. Glenn Maxwell has also made the T20 squad, presumably taking the spot that Steve Smith would have occupied. Really unfortunate for Smith given how good his form was in the IPL just a couple of months ago.
Kind of funny to think that a squad that includes Hoggy could be seen as “looking to the future”, fact is that it is, sort of. Its looking at the immediate future, and that is the World T20 later this year in Sri Lanka. Spin friendly Sri Lanka. Another reason why the omissions of Smith and Lyon still seem a little odd.
Due to concerns over the dessert heat in the UAE, the games are starting much later in the day than they normally would. How much later? Well, the ODIs will start at 6pm local time (midnight AEST), while the T20s will start at 8pm local (2am AEST).
So, guess I won’t be watching any of those games then…