T20 World Cup Preview

T20 World Cup Preview

It has been over five years since the last T20 World Cup.  In that time span there have been six seasons of the Indian Premier League (IPL), five editions of the Big Bash, Pakistan Super League, and Caribbean Premier League plus many more T20 leagues around the globe.  Franchise cricket has grown so rapidly that international T20 cricket has almost lost its intrigue.

Such is the rise of T20 franchise cricket that a player like David Warner has played alongside Rashid Khan on more instances than fellow Australian Glenn Maxwell.  West Indian Kieron Pollard has been a teammate of Rohit Sharma more often than his Caribbean teammates.   Now the time has come for long time franchise teammates to finally reveal a few secrets to fellow countryman to win the prized T20 trophy.

Winning % For Teams Since The 2016 T20 World Cup

Before we proceed and look at Australia’s chances at World Cup it is worth looking at the record of the top eight teams since the last T20 World Cup in 2016.

Records for teams since the 2016 T20 World Cup

Such is the unpredictability of T20 cricket experts believe a winning percentage around 60% is very healthy.  Based on that theory only India and Pakistan can be classified as extremely successful while England also has a very good record.  The rest of the nations are still unable to find a winning formula on a consistent basis.

Why Does Australia Struggle At T20 Cricket?

Australia is one of the teams that sit in the middle of the table with a 50% win-loss percentage in last five years.  In the previous T20 World Cup, Australia failed to make it to semi-finals and the men in yellow are still yet to claim a T20 title.  So why hasn’t Australia been successful in T20 cricket?

Like most cricketing nations, Australia has a domestic T20 tournament – BBL.  The BBL has eight teams and runs over a seven week window (same as the IPL).  But unlike the IPL or the CPL or the PSL, the elite Australian players rarely get to play in the BBL.  Since 2016, David Warner, Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood have combined for just 13 BBL matches.  

BBL Games Played Since 2016

When the elite players are missing from the BBL it definitely affects the competitive nature of the tournament.  While there might be enough talent coming through, the fact that none of the youngsters get to rub shoulders or play against the best players in the country is a major setback. 

Even the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Aaron Finch and Adam Zampa have missed abundance of BBL matches due to the BBL clashing with international commitments.

Compare that to the IPL, CPL or PSL where each of the respective country’s top players is always available to play in the respective domestic T20 league.  The T20 leagues rarely clash with any international matches.  This means a Keiron Pollard or Virat Kohli or a Babar Azam is always available to play in the domestic competition.  This is far from the case in the Big Bash.

India, England and West Indies are creating a lot of attention ahead of the World Cup, but don’t be surprised if Pakistan upset a few along the way and make it to the final or be crowned champions.

The other issue with the Big Bash is the timing.  December and January are prime cricket season in Asia and South Africa/New Zealand meaning it is becoming more difficult to lure current players from those players to participate in the BBL.  Additionally, since the BBL teams are not privately owned and are funded by Cricket Australia therefore the salary cap is significantly lower than some of the other T20 leagues in the world.  The lack of money and the duration of the BBL has prevented some of the current global T20 superstars from playing in the BBL.

With the top players in Australia and the world unable to feature in the BBL, the competition standards are well below the other leagues.  While this has provided emerging players in Australia an opportunity to shine on the big stage, the lack of international standard players has made it difficult for the emerging stars such as Josh Philllipe, Riley Meredith or even a Chris Lynn to prosper at the highest level.   To sum it up, BBL it is becoming harder for players in the BBL to sustain their skills in the international cricket or in the IPL.

Looking at the current T20 squad there is still enough talent and experience in the Australia squad to qualify for the semi-finals, but they simply don’t seem to have all 11 players exposed to the highest standards or opposition.  Expect Australia to still get out of the pool stage but anything beyond semi-finals will be considered a victory within itself.

Who Are The Favourites And The Underdogs?

India and England are widely tipped to reach the final, but can any other team topple these two giants in the World Cup.  The simple answer is – Yes.  West Indies, Pakistan and New Zealand have enough match winners to cause an upset, but they need an innings of great significance with the bat or an outstanding spell of bowling with the ball to topple the favourites.

The West Indies are everyone’s second favourite team, but as evident in the table above their winning percentage since the 2016 World Cup is only 36%.  Despite such a record they are most people’s dark horses largely due to the batting prowess.  

Going by the numbers and the conditions one team that could fly under the radar is Pakistan.  The men in green have been the most successful T20 team in the past five years.  Amongst the top nations Pakistan bowlers have the best collective economy-rate of 7.56.  Amongst the top 20 wicket takers in the last five years – Pakistan have four bowlers – most of any nation.  In terms of batting, Babar Azam is the leading runs-scorer in the last five years and fast bowler Hasan Ali has a better strike-rate than Jasprit Bumrah or a Mitchell Starc.

Add to that the UAE grounds and conditions are like a second home to the players.  Majority of PSL matches in the past three seasons have been conducted in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.  This is bound to be a huge advantage for Pakistan during the next three weeks. Plus they boast two of the most experienced T20 cricketers in the world in Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez.  Plus the fact that none of Pakistan players have participated in the IPL means there is still a sense of an unknown factor about them.

India, England and West Indies are creating a lot of attention ahead of the World Cup, but don’t be surprised if Pakistan upset a few along the way and make it to the final or be crowned champions.

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