‘Un-Australian’ World Cup ‘gobbledygook’ irks greats

The fallout from Australia’s disappointing home T20 World Cup campaign has continued with the pressure placed firmly on the shoulders of coach Andrew McDonald and the selectors.

Despite losing just one match for the tournament, Australia failed to qualify for the knockout stage, and failed to flatter in the final group stage match against Afghanistan.

Australia fielded virtually the same squad as the one which won the 2021 edition of the T20 World Cup in such convincing fashion, but the performances were night and day compared to last year.

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Gone were the miserly pace bowling performances and the swashbuckling batting which saw the Aussies run up monster scores in Dubai.

Steve Smith was controversially forced to run drinks for the majority of the tournament, with Australia preferring a line-up filled with power hitters, who somehow struggled to accelerate effectively throughout the tournament, save for a Marcus Stoinis blitz against Sri Lanka.

McDonald assumed the coaching role on an interim in February following Justin Langer’s resignation, with his post being made official two months later. Now the honeymoon appears to be well and truly over for the Victorian.

While teams such as India and Pakistan have routinely packed out stadiums during the World Cup, Australia has struggled to draw crowds, and former skipper Michael Clarke said Langer’s controversial exit could’ve had something to do with the lack of popularity for this Australian squad.

Stream all the big matches from the men’s T20 World Cup, including the finals, live and free on 9Now.

“I feel for Andrew McDonald because he’s a great bloke but I guarantee to you, if JL (Langer) was coach of this team, this team would have got a massive boot up the backside well before the tournament started,” he told Sky Racing’s Big Sports Breakfast.

“The other thing as well, and I said it a few weeks ago on here, at the moment I feel like there’s a real dislike for the Aussie team and I want to see that turn around.

“We’ve got messages this morning, it seems like so many people are happy that Australia lost.

“There’s still angst around Justin Langer being sacked or resigning, how that went down. I think there’s angst around our style of play and how we’re playing.

“Patty Cummins has got a big job as captain and Andrew McDonald if he’s going to be a coach in trying to turn a few things around.”

Former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson, who played with Clarke in the 2015 World Cup-winning side, also pointed the finger at McDonald and the selection committee.

“He (McDonald) is a selector, so the selectors definitely need to take a look at themselves,” Watson said.

“Him and (chief selector) George Bailey, the big decisions that they made in the lead-in to that tournament, they have to live and die by the sword with the decisions they made.

“They’ve had a pretty cruisy ride over the last little while because the Australians have been playing really nicely.

“But now a T20 World Cup at home where the team didn’t perform as the group certainly can, the microscope will be on them, as it should be.”

Australia’s seemingly conservative style of play left a lot to be desired, with Clarke labeling the performance “very un-Australian”.

“I think Australians in general, on the biggest stage under the most amount of pressure, always put in on the line and have a crack. We’re not scared to lose. Yet we picked an aggressive XI in this World Cup squad yet played so defensively,” he said.

Stream all the big matches from the men’s T20 World Cup, including the finals, live and free on 9Now.

“They’ve got a lot to look at, it’s not just the players. I think some of the decisions made over the past few months leading up to the World Cup they need to look at. For me, hopefully they find a way to improve.

“You can’t win every game, every tournament, I understand that. But with the Australian cricket team there is high expectation and we want to see our team make the final and win tournaments and series.”

Former Australian all-rounder Simon O’Donnell said Australia’s emotional performance was a stark contrast to the passion shown by some of the other teams in at the World Cup.

“I think that’s a problem that needs to be further discussed and addressed, particularly when a captain of the national team is saying it before a tournament starts. That’s starts white flag stuff before it even,” O’Donnell told SEN.

“We understand where that fatigue comes from and why it’s there. I’m sure they’ll have those discussions, but we can’t go to tournaments like this and still play in the IPL and all the things we do outside of playing for Australia.

“People are putting a lot more importance on outside tournaments than they are of climbing the ladder to get to play for Australia and missing an IPL to make sure they’re right for a tournament like this. I must admit, the fatigue (excuse) doesn’t hold water with me.”

Watson added; “They just seemed to lack that extra intensity and that extra bit of spark that they’ve had in the past.

“It was very, very disappointing to watch the brand of cricket that the Aussies played during this tournament.”

Australia’s World Cup campaign was also shrouded in selection controversies, first with Steve Smith’s continued non-selection and then the bizarre axing for Mitchell Starc for the final group stage game against Afghanistan.

Watson said he was “gobsmacked” by the decision to leave Starc out in a must-win game. McDonald said the selection was due to Kane Richardson, Starc’s replacement, being better in the death overs, an explanation that was rubbished by legendary wicketkeeper Ian Healy.

“Death bowling when you’re trying to knock Afghanistan over up front. How’d that decision get made?” he said on SEN radio.

Stream all the big matches from the men’s T20 World Cup, including the finals, live and free on 9Now.

“All of a sudden Starc is a death bowler again? He was a middle-overs bowler.

“Remember they told us that last week. He’s not in the powerplay or up front so much anymore, he’s in the middle. He’s an attacking defender.

“Now he got replaced for death bowling. It’s just gobbledygook. Very average.

“You’re looking to knock over a talented but inexperienced Afghanistan top order and you drop Starc.”

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