New leadership duo Steve Smith and David Warner believe Australia have identified the reasons behind their historically poor Twenty20 record.
Australia have never won the World T20 tournament and boast a middling record away from home in the format, which includes having won just once from eight games in the United Kingdom.
It’s a curious record for a nation who have spent time as the top-ranked Test and one-day team in recent years, won the World Cup in February and have some of the most-recognisable Indian Premier League (IPL) stars on the planet.
It doesn’t sit well with Australia’s new captain and vice-captain, who are eyeing the World T20 in India in March as an opportune time to end their drought.
The pair believe a lack of time spent focused on cricket’s shortest format has cruelled Australia’s chances in the past, but feel that approach is shifting – as evidenced by legspinner Cameron Boyce’s inclusion as a T20 specialist on this tour.
The talented tweaker made the trip purely for Monday’s one-off clash with England in Cardiff, and will then sit out the five-match ODI series to follow.
“Leading into the World Cup for the one-dayers for example, we had a team that didn’t really change as much and you do almost play the same team in the Twenty20s,” Warner said.
“But you’re together for a lengthy period of time (with the ODI squad, whereas) we play one T20 every blue moon in Australia.
“It’s quite challenging for us to go into a group and go ‘here you go, play this tournament’.
“It is very hard.”
Warner points to Boyce’s selection as a shift in thinking which will serve Australia well at the World T20.
“(Monday’s match) is big because, sometimes in the past, we’ve played one-day series with one or two Twenty20s before or after, and it’s just been the one-day team (playing the T20 fixtures),” he said.
“We’re in a fortunate enough position now where the selectors are actually picking Twenty20 players. And they’re picking the right team to move forward.
“It’s great to have a bunch of players that can actually hang around each other and feel the game for each other.”
Australia’s T20 stocks have never been stronger, with Smith and Warner both among the game’s leading lights in the format – while Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell and the injured Aaron Finch are all huge names in the IPL.
Smith is confident playing on foreign soil won’t be a problem.
“A lot of the guys that are probably going to be in the squad for that World Cup have played a lot of IPL cricket and cricket in India and adapted to those conditions so there’s no reason why we can’t win that tournament,” he said.
In addition to the selection of Boyce, young allrounder Marcus Stoinis has been announced to make his debut on Monday.
Stoinis, a powerful striker of the ball who is comfortable at the top of the order, will bat at six at the expense of opener Joe Burns, who made his ODI debut against Ireland and is being considered for the Test opening role vacated by Chris Rogers.
Australia team: David Warner, Shane Watson, Steve Smith (capt), Glenn Maxwell, Mitch Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Cameron Boyce.