The Australian ODI team has lost its way.
Coming off an Ashes series in which the Aussies dominated England, the old foe has hit back hard in the limited overs format.
Indeed when compared to the English side, Steve Smith’s team is clearly in a developmental phase, and certainly cannot be considered a powerhouse in the 50-over form of the game.
A quick glance at Australia’s ODI results since their 2015 World Cup triumph paints an alarming picture.
Statistics prepared by Krishna Tunga at allthatcricket.com detail the Aussies’ demise.
Post the 2015 World Cup Australia has won just 49% of their ODI matches, and that percentage drops markedly post January 2017, to just 30%.
In contrast, England has won 65.5% of ODIs since the 2015 World Cup, and has increased their win percentage to 76% since January 2017.
A look further into the stats from the past 12 months shows that England’s win percentage when they bat second sits at a whopping 90%, while the Aussies have shown a paltry return of just 20%.
The recent Tri-series T20 results between Australia, England and NZ have redressed some of the lost mojo; however, I believe these T20 results are a combination of –
- The BBL has helped craft Australian players to this new format, second only to IPL
- All of the new players drafted into the Australian T20 team have come directly from the current BBL competition, meaning that these individuals have been operating in T20 mode for some time
- And as England did from Ashes to ODI, Australia has followed suit in T20, with leadership changes and key personnel changes, more suited to the new format at the time of the series
So what’s the difference between the two sides?
During the post-World Cup period England has changed captains, they’ve brought in a group of specialist ODI players, and their support staff is better in tune with the requirements of ODI cricket.
The Australian team, its selections and how it is being prepared are transitioning from the long format to ODI cricket.
Such an approach influences the type of game that is being played and the type of players that deliver this game style.
Therefore the technical, mental and tactical skills are drawn broadly from the Test cricket arena .
Australian cricket needs to come to grip with the fact that the future of the game will be the reverse.
T20 cricket will be the major building block to playing all forms of cricket into the future.
So rather than players, coaches, selectors adjusting, modifying and altering their games and game skills from longform (Tests) to shortform (ODI), the future game will require the reverse – adjusting from shortform (T20), and using ODI cricket as the key transition format into the longform game (Test, red and pink)
I’m not for a moment suggesting that Steve Smith should be replaced as captain, but the Australian setup would do well to go back to defining the basics of T20 cricket.
Smith and Coach Darren Lehmann should take a look at the strategies and set plays that bring success to leading T20 and ODI teams currently if they want to return to being the dominant cricket team across all formats of the game, in all countries.
Some of the basics that England, as well as others have been showing are –
- Batsmen like Buttler, Roy, Hales, Morgan, Billings, Ali and so on bat with a ‘contempt’ of the bowlers. They are audacious (too much so at times) because they have an incredible array of shots to balls that are normally recorded as good deliveries by bowlers and expert commentators. Their use of wrists enables them to get the bat into position to make powerful contact with the ball.
- Indian batsmen are similar led by Kohli, Dharwan, Rahane, Pandya et al
- From a fast bowler’s perspective, it is no longer good enough to have 2 or 3 variety balls as batters games have advanced far beyond the bowling skills of the game, and the rules which definitely favour batting
- Andrew Tye is the archetypal bowler of the future. He has enough pace when he chooses to use this variety ball. Otherwise no two balls appear to be the same.
- Fielding acrobatics that were displayed in a recent BBL game between Jake Weatherall and Ben Laughlin are becoming increasingly more regular
They seem simple fixes, but they don’t call it “getting back to basics” for nothing.
Regaining the mojo is as much about getting the basics right for today’s game, as it is about preparing for the future of the game.
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