First and foremost, it is great to be back at a big tournament again. The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 is huge and it is so good to have this event because so many people have been locked down around the world.
T20 cricket is a great format to bring people together and I am expecting to see some brilliant cricket in the next few weeks. Hopefully, a lot of that will come from Australia, who begin their campaign against old foes South Africa on Saturday.
This is the one format of the game Australia’s men have not succeeded in at an ICC tournament and we Australians are hungry for it.
For me, the expectation is that Australia will go and win the tournament. I know they might be high expectations but if you don’t go and set the bar very high, you are not going to succeed.
We have not had a lot of success in this format -- it is time we changed it and we do have a side that can take it all the way. It obviously won’t be easy, especially when you look at how strong teams like England, India and New Zealand are.
But this Australian side is loaded with talent and for me, the key is David Warner. I would like to say he is saving the runs for the games that count after his IPL form! He was really harshly dealt with there and it may have knocked some confidence out of him but he thrives on the big stage. Everything should be rosy for him here, class is permanent.
I will also put a lot of weight behind Mitchell Starc. There has been some debate in the last year about Starc being past his best but he would be in my team every single time, Josh Hazlewood has had a good IPL and Pat Cummins is a superstar. He is the David Beckham of the team, whatever he touches turns to gold!
The build-up has not always been smooth for Australia but it’s amazing what an early win can do for confidence and South Africa pose a massive threat.
Players come and go, greats come and go. But when you play against a nation like South Africa, the respect is always there. We know they have some match-winners and that is where the T20 game will suit them. They have guys who can take the game away within four or five overs and it will be a real test.
I think South Africa are closer to the Australian culture than any other nation, in terms of sport. New Zealand are obviously closer geographically but South Africans are abrasive on the sports field. They are always in your face and I love that, it’s great. It is also why they have been so successful in all formats. I know they will give Australia a red-hot crack.
The teams who have had success on these wickets are generally from the sub-continent, so they normally have that advantage. But because we have just had the back end of the IPL played on these pitches, I think it brings the playing field a lot closer and both the Aussies and Proteas will be thinking that.
But saying that, I think India are probably the favourites with their top four or five batters and their bowling attack. I have KL Rahul down as the top run-scorer in the tournament and Mohammed Shami to be the leading wicket-taker, purely going on the last few months. So if they deliver and India have one of the leading run-scorers and wicket-takers, it’s a good start.
But I’m confident Australia can do it and it all starts against South Africa -- a brilliant match to start what will hopefully be a brilliant tournament for the Baggy Greens.
(ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020)