A resurgent West Indies have shown why they are kings of the shortest format of the game this past week as they thoroughly dominated Australia to clinch the T20 series 4-1 at home. With their victory, as well as performances from almost all the big names in the team, West Indies have sent a clear message to all nations participating in the upcoming T20 World Cup. Australia on the other hand had to contend with some good bowling spectacles, but need to work on multiple areas before the World Cup kicks off in October.
Here’s our review of the T20 Series between West Indies and Australia:
AS IT HAPPENED
The first two T20s were one-sided affairs, with Andre Russel’s 51 off 28 balls propelling West Indies to 145. Australia’s batsmen struggled in reply as Obed McCoy and Hayden Walsh wreaked havoc on the Aussie top order. Nicholas Pooran’s men put on even more dominant displays in the next two fixtures – including top knocks from Shimron Hetmyer, DJ Bravo and Chris Gayle. Skipper Aaron Finch and Mitchell Marsh then combined forces to take the fourth T20 for the Aussies, but Evin Lewis’ heroics took away the last T20 from the Men in Yellow.
WEST INDIES DOMINATE PROCEEDINGS
The defending champions entered the series with a narrow 3-2 series loss to South Africa. But the Windies came back in spectacular style as they dominated a not-so-weak Australian side thoroughly in familiar tracks. The Men in Maroon put on all-round displays as veterans shined with the bat while newly inducted bowlers made life hard for the Aussies. Since the end of the World Cup in 2016, the Windies have scarcely lived up to their name of being World Champions, but the past few months have resurrected the possibility that Chris Gayle’s side might once again take home the title.
To be fair, Australia fielded a relatively weaker side as several heavyweight players opted out of the series citing bio bubble fatigue and for more focus on the upcoming red-ball matches. But the series has exposed the relative lack of depth that Australia are plagued with – compared to India and England, the Big Bash League has failed to produce sufficient players to field a B-team for the Kangaroos.
BATSMEN SHINE FOR WINDIES
The most positive news for the Windies from the series might not be the series victory itself – rather, the return to form of several veterans who have long shone elsewhere but failed to shine as a team seem to be working together well for the first time in years. Evin Lewis, Chris Gayle and Lendl Simmons all shone for the Windies with the bat, while stand-in skipper Nicholas Pooran embraced his role as a partnership-builder. Big hitters Andre Russell, Fabian Allen and Dwayne Bravo put on some good knocks, and have shown the ability to give the Windies innings a good finishing touch.
For Australia, however, the absence of David Warner and Steve Smith was keenly felt, and Aaron Finch had to try multiple combinations throughout the series to try to revive their fortunes. One positive outcome for the Aussies is the discovery of Mitchell Marsh at the No.3 spot in the T20s. Marsh finished the series with 219 runs at a strike rate of 152, including three fifties, albeit in losing cause for the Aussies. He ended the tournament as its top scorer, and his performance will give selectors back home some relief.
QUESTIONS ABOUND FOR AUSTRALIA
Despite fielding a second-string side, plenty of heads will be rolling in Australia’s dressing room as the team’s lack of depth has been laid bare for all to see. While England’s B-team thumped Pakistan at home, India’s selectors have shown the confidence of sending a completely new side to Sri Lanka. Australia wanted to replicate something similar, with veterans making way for newcomers, but the strategy seems to have backfired. Australia’s batsmen continue to struggle against spin – Hayden Walsh is the latest in a line of spinners to create havoc among Australia’s middle order. The return of Steve Smith, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell should help them in the World Cup, but UAE’s spin-friendly pitches will do no favour to the Kangaroos.
WORLD CUP FORTUNES
With the T20 World Cup just months away, the focus of the teams is on fine-tuning squads for the tournament. With the threat of coronavirus looming over the event and stringent bio bubbles in place, boards are struggling to find sufficient depth among their squads in case of an emergency. So far, England, India and West Indies have come out with flying colours while Australia are struggling to catch up. With no major T20 tournaments on the horizon, there will be more than a few worried minds in Australia. West Indies, on the other hand, will have a chance to test their depth once again as they face Pakistan later this month.