MITCHELL JOHNSON: Australia failed in three areas at T20 World Cup that ended in sad farewell for David Warner

Mitchell Johnson
The Nightly
The Australian batsman walked off unaware if he would ever play again.

Australia only have themselves to blame for missing the semifinals of the T20 World Cup, a tournament they had targeted to become kings of all forms of cricket at the same time.

There was plenty of talk about Australia’s difficult travel schedule during the Super-8s, but the Aussies knew that leading into the tournament.

So that is not something they would have worried about and definitely no excuse for the consecutive defeats to Afghanistan and India which knocked them out.

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So where did it all go wrong? Good question. Because there were no injury issues and it wasn’t like Australia didn’t have an experienced, full-strength squad.

Was all the talk about trying to knock England out by underperforming against Scotland in the group stage a distraction? I don’t think so. It was more outside noise. As a player, you always play to win and Josh Hazlewood’s comments were tongue-in-cheek.

We could go through a check list, but there were three key failings that stood out for me.

We’ve all heard the saying “catches win matches”. And Australia’s fielding was poor. And I bet that the Australian team would be the first to put their hands up and agree.

We’re talking about a team that always prides themselves on their fielding, setting the highest of standards. Australia go into every match or tournament saying they want to show the opposition they are the best in the field.

Australia is normally a side that takes those half chances and gets one or two run outs each match. More than that, it’s about buzzing around the field with passion, letting the two opposition batsmen in the middle know that it’s two against 11 out there.

Did we see that from Australia in the field? Maybe here and there.

Which brings me to my next point about what went wrong. Energy. Where was it?

It links directly to the woeful fielding but it’s also about things such as running between wickets when batting to put fielders under pressure and force fumbles.

While Twenty20 cricket from the outside looks like it’s all about the big sixes and hitting boundaries, the rotation of the strike is vital.

Especially when you’ve just got to the crease and even more so when conditions have been a little less favourable for batting like we’ve seen at some venues in this World Cup. Even pushing for twos in pockets of bigger grounds is crucial. It’s all part of showing urgency and energy.

That batting tactic was sorely lacking from the Aussies and if you compare that to how Afghanistan went about it, it was very noticeable.

Australia's David Warner looks at his bat as he walks from the field after he was dismissed during the men's T20 World Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and Australia at Arnos Vale Ground, Kingstown, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saturday, June 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)
Australia's David Warner looks at his bat as he walks from the field after he was dismissed for the final time against India Credit: Ramon Espinosa/AP

Although Afghanistan also made their mistakes in the field, they showed more hunger and belief and that’s why they progressed to a semifinal for the first time and Australia didn’t get through. They were knocked out today by South Africa but will hold their heads up for making it to the final four.

Maybe the Aussies were complacent. Missing the semifinals of the T20 World Cup for the second straight time is not up to the high standards that we all set for the Australian cricket team. So plenty of questions will be asked about this failed campaign.

Given the age of the team – with all but one of the preferred XI aged in their 30s – it’s natural that there will be turnover ahead of the next T20 World Cup to be held in India and Sri Lanka in 2026.

What Australia need moving forward is an injection of youth into the squad. If they can get the blend of youth and experience right before the next World Cup and learn from how the best teams in T20 cricket play the game.

If they do this then the next two years will have them much better prepared for achieving T20 glory.

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