FORMER Australian cricket captain Ian Chappell has called Australia’s upcoming match with India “crucial” to the team’s bid to secure the country’s first ICC World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka.
Australia is scheduled to play an in-form Indian squad on 28 September as their first match in the ‘Super 8’ phase of the international tournament. The match comes amidst an outbreak of gastric illness in Colombo that has affected players from a variety of competing nations.
Chappell, speaking to Australian Times on behalf of ESPNcricinfo.com’s World T20 coverage, said that there were two key problems facing the Australian cricketers in their match against India.
“There has been a lot of rain in Colombo, and that’s a major problem. Team’s shouldn’t be going through to the next round of the competition in five over games, because that throws luck into the equation.
“Also, after seeing the pitches they looked like they would have helped quicker bowlers, but they have been slowing down which will give Australia a headache.”
Chappell, who captained Australia between 1971 and 1975, claimed that the conditions would not make a significant impact on which players’ performance would be vital to the team’s success throughout the tournament.
“The top three players will be Warner, Watson and Hussey regardless; if they are making runs then the team should do pretty well.
“If everyone concentrates on their game, everything will be fine. You can afford to make a slip up in Test cricket and make up for it later, but one slip up can be terminal in the twenty over version of the game.”
Chappell was heavily involved in the foundation of Australian business mogul Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket competition in 1977, which in many ways pioneered the style of cricket popularised through Twenty20 tournaments in recent years.
Chappell believes that matches with restricted overs in the Twenty20 style have made a “change in approach” necessary.
“Batsmen have less time to make runs, and that’s something that players have to mentally adapt to. There has been some innovation in regards to how shots are played as well, although a good player will play good shots regardless.”
The ICC World Twenty20 competition has proven elusive for the Australian cricket team in the past, with the team’s best result a loss to England in the final of the 2010 tournament.
Chappell claims that the “lack of control” that exists in the shorter form of Twenty20 has contributed to the Australian team’s inability to win the international title.
“The nature of the World Twenty20 competition is that it’s a lottery. You can lose to less talented teams, and you don’t have as much control over the game as you do in a Test match,” Chappell said.
“In the past we didn’t play a lot of Twenty20 cricket and that contributed to our performance, but we can’t use that excuse anymore.”
A shadow has been cast over Australia’s performance in the lead-up to the World Twenty20 tournament, with Australia slipping into tenth position in the ICC rankings directly prior to the commencement of the competition.
This ranking placed Australia below Ireland, with the country scoring their second-lowest run total of 89 in a recent Twenty20 match against Pakistan.
Chappell claims that Australian cricketers should not be paying attention to their low position in the international rankings, and should instead be focusing on playing to the best of their ability.
“I wouldn’t worry about the rankings because, to be honest, they are bullshit. Let a computer worry about the rankings, the captain should be focused on making sure the team is able to perform,” he said.
Australia will face a tough group in the Super 8 stage of the World Twenty20 tournament, with the team needing to record victories against strong contenders South Africa and India in order to progress to the semi-finals of the competition.
ESPNcricinfo.com is delivering extensive World T20 coverage online via a dedicated tournament section, on mobile and via a free new iPad app.