The World Twenty20 is coming.
Not quite as big as a World Cup. Not quite as small as a tri-series tournament.
Perhaps its status is best left in purgatory.
Neither one thing or the other.
A bit like Bob Cunis.
Unfortunately, Australia has treated this upcoming tournament as a distraction rather than a goal.
It’s head really is not in the game.
It didn’t need to be this way. It had plenty of opportunity to get it right.
It has chosen not to.
By the time this ICC event starts in India, Australia would have only played three T20 internationals in the preceding 16 months.
Now, even the uneducated man can clearly deduce that this causes problems should your want be to win this thing.
For example, what is Australia’s best XI?
The answer to that question is far from clear.
In the current T20I series against India, the Australians have played 6 debutants.
Boland, Lyon, Tye, Khawaja, Bancroft and Head.
That’s not the sign of a settled side.
When Nathan Lyon finally got his shot, he was given just one over.
Chairman of Selectors Rod Marsh famously stated that Lyon doesn’t get much of a go in shorter forms of the game because he wants to “ensure his confidence remains high”.
Playing Australia’s greatest ever off spinner and giving him just 6 balls probably will not help that.
Speaking of Rod Marsh, one must question whether he is best placed to help select the side.
Test and ODI cricket is one thing. But T20 is a totally different game.
Fellow selector Mark Waugh should be well placed, having sat in the commentary box for most of the Big Bash.
He has been observing the local talent, watching how the latest strategies unfold and surrounded by a production team feeding him all the stats and data he will ever need.
But he was part of a crew that decided to play Shaun Tait. Supposedly, he was the answer to some undisclosed question.
Potentially, Australia could do with a separate selection panel for T20 internationals. Maybe one made up of list managers of the best Big Bash franchises. These are the guys who are recruiting the best players from around the world on a daily basis.
In 2014, George Bailey stood down from the T20I captain to focus on getting back in the Test side. He was replaced by Aaron Finch.
That’s two poor decisions right there.
The best Australian side likely has Steve Smith, George Bailey, Shane Watson and David Warner in it. All are ahead of Finch in the captaincy stakes.
The ICC rank Finch as the world’s best T20 batsman. He isn’t.
It is arguable that he doesn’t belong in Australia’s best XI.
On form, Warner, Khawaja, Shaun Marsh and even Tim Payne all have serious claims.
If there is one area that Australia have strength, it is the batting depth.
However, where it lacks is its bowling.
Not that they don’t exist. We just don’t know who the best ones for the team are or how to use them.
For example, given the World Twenty20 is being played in India, who are the spinners?
India are quite settled on Ashwin and Jadeja. Australia haven’t worked out if it is Lyon, Maxwell, Zampa, Boyce or some other random, yet to be named player.
Who bowls during the first 6 powerplay overs? Who closes out the innings?
Australia’s fascination with all rounders still looms large.
Faulkner, Mitch Marsh, Hastings, Boland, Watson and Maxwell.
None can carry the attack, no matter how much faith is put into them.
Only four legitimate all rounders appear in the top 20 of the ICC T20 bowling rankings. These being Ashwin, Afridi, Ahakib and Mathews.
That should be a strong enough clue as to how the team should be made up.
The loss of Mitch Starc to injury is a serious hole.
Rather than plug it with a legitimate bowler, the selectors are using bits and pieces cricketers to close the gap.
It doesn’t work.
Australia will now head into this tournament not knowing what its best batting line up is, who its best bowlers are or how to best use them.
It has similarities to England’s disastrous 2015 ODI World Cup campaign.
Australia may be great at running T20 tournaments, but a systematic lack of planning tells us it is awful at managing its T20 international side.
Still not convinced?
Then how about this:
Nepal have a greater winning percentage at the ICC World Twenty20 than Australia.