Australia is out of the T20 World Cup and, with that bitter disappointment, the new cycle has officially begun.
There are less than two years before the next edition takes place in June 2024 in the Caribbean and United States.
And although that’s not a long turnaround, it’s long enough that we could be about to witness a major overhaul of Australia’s 20-over team.
Australia had the oldest team at this year’s tournament with only Pat Cummins, Tim David, Cameron Green and Nathan Ellis under 30. Only Green and David are under 28.
Others are believed to be on the verge of international retirement, such as 34-year-old Matthew Wade, 35-year-old Aaron Finch and 36-year-old David Warner.
Wade has previously indicated that he would retire after this year’s World Cup, while Finch has already called it a day in 50-over cricket after falling out of form.
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With Australia not expected to play 20-over cricket for some time, and the focus about to turn towards next year’s ODI World Cup, it appears likely that Finch will hang up the batting gloves in all international formats imminently.
Finch and Wade could be the first post-tournament casualties, but it’s unlikely they will be the only ones.
Warner plans to keep playing until the 2024 World Cup – but two years can be a long time in cricket, especially with a gruelling 2023 on the horizon for Australia’s all-formats players.
Questions will be asked of players throughout the squad, however, with the white ball group looking like one in need of rejuvenation.
As Mark Waugh pointed out during the final match, there was a flatness about Australia at the World Cup.
That could easily be put down to physical fatigue, but mental fatigue is also a major concern – as evidenced by Glenn Maxwell saying that Australia’s elimination “doesn’t mean anything”.
Is this a group that still cares?
Having won the T20 world crown last year, is there still enough hunger in the game’s shortest format?
Only the players can answer that, but a number are now at a crossroads in international 20-over cricket and will need to determine what their futures look like.
Former Australia quick Stuart Clark said on BBC’s Test Match Special that “half” of Australia’s T20 players might not stick around.
“They will have a debrief and a bit of soul searching.
“There’s some guys who have been around for a while, and we have to start looking to some younger guys.
“I think this especially applies to the bowlers who play all three formats. The questions are going to be asked about what our team will look like for the next T20 World Cup, and I think half these guys won’t be there.”
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Continuing to play will look far less attractive to all-formats players, such as Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Steve Smith, in the immediate aftermath of this competition.
Already England star Ben Stokes has retired from ODIs, believing it unsustainable to keep playing all three formats.
Their schedules are stacked: An ODI series against England starts immediately after the World Cup, followed by the traditional Test summer.
That gives way to a Test tour of India in early 2023, which will also feature an away Ashes series and an ODI World Cup.
For those who fancy it, there’s also the Indian Premier League season crammed in there.
Any 20-over games Australia plays next year is therefore unlikely to feature any of those players, unless they are part of an ODI World Cup warm-up.
In theory, that leaves them out until 2024 when Smith will turn 35, Starc 34 and Hazlewood 33.
Cummins will be the youngest at 31, but is about to take on a dual captaincy role between Test and ODI cricket which will prove to be demanding.
Speaking about being made ODI captain, but before it was made official, Cummins suggested that compromises would need to be made to his playing schedule.
“There’s a lot to think through, for whoever it is,” he said at the time.
“If it (the ODI captaincy) comes up and it works, it would obviously be a huge privilege, but if not, it’s totally fine.
“I don’t want anything to take away from my role as Test captain, so there’d be a bit to work through.”
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He also hinted that it would be unlikely that he takes on the T20 captaincy moving forward.
Zampa, 30, is in his prime and remains a lock moving forward, while both David and Green are project players with healthy white ball futures for Australia.Which leaves Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Mitch Marsh.
All three players are in their 30s while Maxwell and Stoinis have recently turned 34 and 33 respectively.
The duo were two of Australia’s better players during the campaign, with Maxwell scoring a rapid half-century in the final Group 1 match while Stoinis belted Australia’s fastest T20 World Cup half-century against Sri Lanka.
What helps their prospect of playing a role in the team moving forward is they are predominantly white ball specialists.
Neither will play a role in next year’s Ashes while Maxwell could come into the frame for the tour of India.
Their experience could also be considered important moving forward with Finch and Wade moving towards international retirement.
As for Marsh, the 31-year-old is the youngest of the trio and has time on his side.
He will make it to the next T20 World Cup and he could play a greater role than people think.
Marsh has leadership capability and is well respected within the team.
Stuart Clark believes young blood such as Green needs to be injected to leadership roles.
“What Australian cricket needs is young leadership,” he said.
“There’s no one young in that team. Other than Cameron Green everyone else is over the age of 29.
“It’s not an easy fix to click your fingers and make it all simple. I think there’s a little bit of soul searching for Cricket Australia in that format. Maybe Cameron Green is the man.”
But is that too much for a young man, playing all three formats, to handle?
The question is, if Wade and Finch retire, who are the front-runners to take their positions?
Josh Inglis must be the front-runner to take the gloves given he was in the World Cup squad before a freak incident on the golf course saw him ruled out of the tournament.
Inglis was a Ricky Ponting favourite and the right-hander can bat anywhere in the order.
Even if he doesn’t wicket-keeper, he could feature in the squad with Sydney Sixers star Josh Philippe another wicket-keeper on the rise.
Philippe has yet to show he is of international quality, having yet to register a half-century from 13 internationals (10 T20, 3 ODI), but has dominated the Big Bash in recent years at the top of the order.
He has finished in the top 10 for runs scored in the past two seasons, averaging more than 30 in both years and his seven half-centuries during that time, including two 90s.
While Alex Carey, who is looking more and more comfortable in international cricket, can’t be discounted but given his role in the Test and ODI side might mean the workload is too great.
As for Finch’s role, Green looms as the obvious choice but there are others who will be considered too.
Philippe or Inglis will likely be considered while Ben McDermott, who has scored centuries in the Big Bash and had a strong campaign in Pakistan earlier in the year, could be considered too.
Travis Head has scored runs at the top of the order and was in brilliant form for Australia against Pakistan earlier in the year.
D’Arcy Short is another who has played T20 cricket for Australia and Ponting told foxsports.com.au earlier this year that left-hander is his “project player” at the Hobart Hurricanes.
Maxwell will likely continue to play a strong role in the team, Ashton Agar will likely be considered for a greater role in the XI because most international sides have two front-line spinners in their squad and the slow wickets in the Caribbean will suit his left-arm spin.
His Perth Scorchers teammate Ashton Turner is another whose potential has barely scratched the surface.
The hard-hitting batter has won internationals in ODI cricket but not yet been afforded regular matches.
At 29, he is someone who will be considered particularly if Stoinis’ form wavers.
As for Australia’s bowling cartel, questions will be asked of Starc and Cummins particularly over the next two years given their age, workload concerns and whether their bowling is suited to the here and now.
Nathan Ellis starred against England in a warm-up match but wasn’t in Australia’s World Cup team while Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson both bowl with genuine pace and can swing the ball.
The trio will likely battle it out for one or two spots at most, particularly given the likely slow decks at the next World Cup.
WHO’S NEXT IN LINE?
Openers: D’Arcy Short, Travis Head
Batters: Ben McDermott
All-rounders: Cameron Green, Ashton Turner
Keeping: Alex Carey, Josh Inglis, Josh Philippe
Bowling: Nathan Ellis, Jhye Richardson, Riley Meredith
PREDICTED WORLD CUP XI FOR 2024
Josh Philippe, Josh Inglis, Ben McDermott, Mitch Marsh (c), Glenn Maxwell, Cameron Green, Tim David, Ashton Agar, Jhye Richardson, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood