Australia’s leading players have
nominated the Twenty20 wildcards that they believe stand between them and the
one piece of silverware that has eluded them – and leading the charge is West
Indian skipper Chris Gayle.
Michael Clarke’s team has been
installed a strong favourite for the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean, which
starts tomorrow, but there are some dangerous hitters looming in the shape of
West Indian heroes Gayle and Kieron Pollard and England ace Kevin Pietersen.
South African quick Dale Steyn is
another potential match-winner in the high-octane world of Twenty20 cricket.
Australia had Gayle’s measure
throughout the one-day series last summer, but he will be extra motivated on
“There are some good players
of spin, including Gayle and New Zealand’s Ross Taylor, even though he gets out
a lot to spin,” Australian off-spinner Nathan Hauritz said.
“The boundaries over there
aren’t big, so it will be interesting. Even if a batsman mis-hits the ball,
there’s every chance it will still go all the way. At the start of the match,
the impact of the fast bowlers is crucial, but after that the more pace taken
off the ball the better.”
Australian all-rounder Shane Watson
nominated Steyn and Pietersen as headaches.
“When it comes to facing
bowlers, Dale Steyn is a real big challenge with the new ball. He swings it
away and with pace,” Watson said. “And when you’re bowling, ‘KP’
(Pietersen) is a guy who can really take you down.
“MS Dhoni has been playing
well and is another guy to watch, especially towards the end of an innings.
“Then you’ve got Chris Gayle
and Kieron Pollard, who can take the game away from you quickly. There will be
a bit of pressure on them being at home, but they’ll know the conditions, which
is an advantage.”
Watson, who enjoyed three days at
home last week after playing with Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier
League, also made mention of India’s Suresh Raina, who starred for Chennai.
Hauritz agreed that Gayle, Pollard
and Pietersen could be a bowler’s worst nightmare and added Kiwi pair Brendon
McCullum and Taylor to the list of game-breakers.
Taylor lit up Hauritz during the
first Test in Hamilton last month, belting him for a record 25 runs in one
Hauritz and leg-spinner Steven
Smith are sure to play a vital role for Australia, especially in the opening
match against Pakistan at St Lucia, where a spin-friendly deck is expected.
Hauritz said India and the West
Indies deserved to be favourites for the tournament, even though Australia’s
one-day form had been brilliant over the past 12 months.
Skipper Michael Clarke said there
were no regrets about leaving Doug Bollinger out of the line-up, despite his
brilliant form in the Indian Premier League, including taking four wickets in last
week’s semi-final win against Adam Gilchrist’s Deccan Chargers.
Bollinger’s exclusion was tough to
comprehend given an injury-hit Brett Lee went wicketless throughout this year’s
tournament with the Kings XI Punjab.