Australian captain Aaron Finch admitted his team was “tired” and needed to freshen up before their defence of the Twenty20 World Cup title, but England skipper Jos Buttler on Saturday said the hosts remain the favourites.
The reigning champions head into the showpiece cricket tournament on home soil, which starts Sunday with the preliminary round after a lacklustre three-match series against the English.
They lost 2-0, with the third game abandoned Friday evening due to rain, culminating eight matches for Australia in 26 days — three of them in India.
Catch the T20 World Cup Live on Kayo. Don’t Risk Missing All Your Teams’ Matches. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
“I think the guys are probably a little bit tired at the moment,” Finch said after the washed-out England match, where he fell for a first-ball duck.
“The schedule has been so packed over the last six to eight weeks that we identified a couple of months ago that we wanted to make sure that we’re in a position to be peaking at the right time of the World Cup and not beforehand.
Hit & (forget to) run?! – England howler | 00:48
“So it’s going to be important over the next couple of days to try and freshen everyone up as much as we can.”
Buttler, whose team are riding high after a confidence-boosting build-up, insisted Australia were still the team to beat.
“T20 is one of those games that can be unpredictable, but I think history tells you that, generally, the host nation are slight favourites in big tournaments,” he said in Melbourne.
“Many of us have travelled and played in Australia and know the conditions, but of course no-one is going to know the conditions or be as accustomed to them as the Australian team.
“They are also reigning champions, so you have to pick them out probably as favourites for the tournaments.”
Australia still has an unofficial warm-up game scheduled against India before they enter the World Cup at the Super 12 stage on October 22 in a rematch of last year’s final with New Zealand.
Finch said the players would be given a couple of off days in the lead-up “where there’s no cricket at all to let our guys recharge”.
Gilchrist looks into Aaron Finch | 06:06
He also acknowledged that England “definitely outplayed us”.
“With the bat, we were always just one wicket down further than we needed to be over the whole series,” he said.
“In big run chases, you need that one in batter towards the back of the innings and we probably were just falling a little bit short each time with that. All in all, we’re not bad, just a little sharpen up would be nice.”
Despite the series defeat and the gruelling lead-up to the World Cup, Finch said was confident his players would be ready for their tough opener.
“We can’t control what’s already gone,” he said.
“We know how hard the guys train. Each person trained really well individually, and as a group, we trained fantastic.
“It’s just about guys peaking at the right time and not burning out too early.”