Australia’s Ashes preparation sacrificed in pursuit of maiden T20 World Cup title
Australia’s preparations for next summer’s Ashes have taken a complicated turn, with several of the country’s best players expected to enter the 2021/22 series with minimal practice against the red ball.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Australian assistant coach Andrew McDonald — who’s leading the T20 side in New Zealand in Justin Langer’s absence — indicated that a full-strength white-ball squad would be taken to India for October’s T20 World Cup.
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“I’d say if they’re in the best T20 side or squad they’ll be there and we’ll just have to work out ways to preparing those guys who aren’t playing in the XI at the time,” McDonald said.
“And we’re probably expecting to have extended squads through this COVID period as well. We could end up having, 18, 19, 20 players in the squad as opposed to what we’ve become accustomed with the 15-man squad.
“So I think the squads will be a little bit deeper, therefore you might have some options to train guys in India at the time to get ready for the Ashes as well.”
Andrew McDonald, current head coach of Australia.Source:Getty Images
The 20-over tournament is expected to coincide with the first half of the Sheffield Shield competition, which will be essential for Test hopefuls and national selectors ahead of the Ashes.
As a result, all-format players such as Pat Cummins, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and David Warner may be defending the urn next summer with limited long-format cricket under their belt.
Unless England can muster an unlikely victory against India this week, Australia will have zero Test matches scheduled between now and when the Ashes get underway in November.
In comparison, England will have already played 12 Test matches in the calendar year — including eight against powerhouse nation India.
McDonald’s claim is a stark contrast to national selectors’ approach over the past few years, when Australia’s all-format players rarely featured in T20 cricket.
For example, Smith did not play a T20 international for 1309 days following the most recent T20 World Cup.
Australia’s Steve Smith drops a catch.Source:News Corp Australia
Smith captained Australia during the 2016 tournament, winning two games in the group stage before being knocked out by India.
After that defeat in March 2016, he did not represent his country in the game’s shortest format for more than three-and-a-half years — including his one-year hiatus from the sport.
Smith was habitually rested whenever a T20 series rolled around, the superstar batsman preserved for Test cricket and 50-over contests.
But after returning from his 12-month suspension, Smith played 15 consecutive T20 internationals for Australia between October 2019 and December 2020.
With two T20 World Cups on the horizon, Australian cricket’s focus shifted back to the 20-over format — before it’s put on the back burner again for three-and-a-bit years.
Australia boasts a horrific record in T20 World Cups — zero titles and only one final in six tournaments — and hampering preparations for the Ashes could be deemed a necessary sacrifice in pursuit of a maiden title.
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