Australia’s T20 World Cup campaign is over.

The reigning champions watched from their Adelaide hotel as England defeated Sri Lanka by four wickets on the eastern coast on Saturday evening, knocking the host nation out of the tournament.

It was an unceremonious end to Australia’s campaign, and an equally abrupt conclusion to Matthew Wade’s international career.

It‘s crunch time at the T20 World Cup and you can catch every match live and ad-free in play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >

The Australians by no means played terribly, winning three of their four Super 12 matches to finish in a three-way tie with England and New Zealand at the top of the Group 1 standings.

But their tournament can be summed up with one word – mediocrity.

A crushing 89-run loss to New Zealand in Sydney immediately put Australia on the back foot, heavily damaging their net run rate which finished at -0.173 and ultimately proved their downfall.

The defending champions could have rectified the problem with handsome wins over Afghanistan or qualifying nations Sri Lanka and Ireland, but their unconvincing victories weren’t enough to push their net run rate above zero.

There was a noticeable lack of desperation from the Australian camp, who seemed content securing the win rather than hunting the clinical victory they desperately needed.

“Your boys seemed a bit flat for some reason,’’ a Sri Lankan player told News Corp last week.

“It’s not like them. But there wasn’t a lot of spark there. There just seemed to be something missing.’’

There were moments of brilliance throughout Australia’s T20 World Cup campaign – Marcus Stoinis’ record-breaking fifty against Sri Lanka and Mitchell Starc’s double-wicket maiden at the Gabba offered fans a glimpse at their potential.

But Australia’s batting hasn’t been up to scratch over the past fortnight and the pace bowling cartel was, for the most part, bitterly uninspiring.

The brutal truth is they didn’t deserve a semi-finals berth.

“We haven’t put the complete game together,” Glenn Maxwell told reporters at Adelaide Oval on Friday.

“There were a couple of games last year during the World Cup where we probably did. Bangladesh, West Indies and Sri Lanka we played the complete game, almost back-to-back. They were clinical performances, we did the game quickly, and we were pretty sharp in all areas.

“We’ve missed a few opportunities this year, I feel like batters have got starts and haven’t gone big, I don’t think we’ve got any batters in the top five or 10 run scorers, we haven’t got the high wicket takers either, it feels like we’ve just been chipping away here and there.

“For us the frustration is it would’ve been nice to play that game against England and showcase where we think we are as a team and if you lose that you can wear it that you’ve missed out on finals … and if you win that you put yourself in good stead. Starting the first game of the tournament not that well probably hurt us as well.”

Questions will also be asked of coach Andrew McDonald and the selection panel after inexplicably dropping Starc for the Afghanistan match, a baffling decision that quickly backfired.

Monday’s contest against Ireland was bookmarked as the fixture where Australia could turn its tournament around, and the hosts were seemingly cruising towards a comprehensive victory after Ireland crumbled to 5/25 in the Powerplay.

Enter Lorcan Tucker.

The wicketkeeper smacked 71 from 48 balls – none of his teammates scored more than 14 – to revive Ireland’s run chase and deny Australia the thrashing they needed to fix their net run rate.

Tucker’s onslaught should have ended in the 12th over when Pat Cummins completely botched a regulation catch at mid-wicket off Starc’s bowling. He hardly got a finger on it.

The Aussies had one final chance against Afghanistan at Adelaide Oval on Friday, but all-rounder Rashid Khan shifted the narrative from Australia’s margin of victory to whether they’d win at all with an unbeaten 48 from 23 balls during the run chase.

Suddenly, Australia’s fate was out of their hands. Aaron Finch’s men now relied on New Zealand or Sri Lanka toppling England for a clear path to the semi-finals, which never came.

It feels inevitable that this will be the last T20 World Cup campaign for several Australian players.

Wade has already signalled his intention to retire after this tournament, while captain Aaron Finch is also expected to hang up the boots. Starc and Cummins, albeit extraordinary talents, should make way for short-format specialists ahead of the 2024 tournament in North America.

Australia boasted the oldest team in the tournament – Cummins was the second-youngest player in its first-choice starting XI at 29. They were hampered by injury concerns before and during the T20 World Cup, with sluggish fielding too often assisting their opponents.

This Australian team earned the right to defend its title on home soil, but the honeymoon period is over. A rebuild awaits.

“It’s disappointing for Australia to go out but they weren’t good enough,” former Australian bowler Stuart Clark told BBC’s Test Match Special.

“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.”

Don’t expect the Australians to wallow in pity; the relentless cricket calendar doesn’t provide any downtime to lick their wounds.

Up next are three ODIs against England, two Tests against the West Indies, three Tests against South Africa, a four-Test tour of India, six ODIs against India and Afghanistan, the World Test Championship final, a five-Test Ashes series, an eight-match white-ball tour of South Africa and a 50-over World Cup in India – then the 2023/24 home summer kicks off.

“You can‘t dwell on it. I think you move on pretty quickly,” Maxwell said.

“We‘ve got a one-day series against England probably 24 hours later and then we’ve got the Big Bash and then we’ve got four-day cricket.

“Cricket never stops so you don‘t get time to dwell. Maybe when you retire you think back to it would have been nice to win that but it doesn’t mean anything.

“I wish we had have won, but we didn‘t.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *