Melbourne: Arguably the most successful cricketing nation as far as Tests and ODIs are concerned, Australia have struggled in Twenty20 and all-rounder Shane Watson feels it is because the shortest format only has "entertainment value".
Shane Watson. Pic/AFP
"It is challenging with T20Is. Apart from the World T20, there really isn't that much riding on the series apart from national pride and wanting to win for your country," said Watson at the pre-match press conference today.
"There is no rankings or big sort of things around and its pure entertainment value, and it certainly provides a lot of entertainment. Watson said it would be a difficult task to get the right combination ahead of the World T20. "...it is always a challenge at the back end of a summer, especially with a couple of guys going to New Zealand early and the make up of the World T20 squad going to India potentially could be different as well. It's hard to know what the make up is going to be.
"There isn't much continuity with the T20 group until it gets into the WorldT20 and it makes it very challenging to get the combination right. To know the roles of different guys and how they fit in and makes it very challenging, that's one of the major reasons why we have been so inconsistent."
The hard-hitting all-rounder said he was extremely impressed with Indian pacer Jasprit Bumrah. "Seeing him in the IPL for Mumbai Indians, he has done incredibly well for them. He bowls at good pace and he is different from the way he swings the ball into the right-handers. Bringing the brand new ball in, he is able to execute his yorkers very well so there is no surprise that he has come into the Indian team and done very well."
He, meanwhile, dismissed the flare-up between Steve Smith and Virat Kohli. "Virat is a very excitable dude anyway so he gets involved in a contest. And obviously him and Steve have got a big and healthy rivalry as well for the most incredible batsman in the world at the moment.
I will be very surprised if that affected the way Steve bats and he knows when to switch on. Virat plays with his heart on his sleeve and I certainly know that from experience. He sometimes gets into trouble because of it, but that's the thing that drives him as well," said Watson.
Australia will have Glenn Maxwell back into the fold for the second T20 after he has sufficiently recovered from his hamstring issues. "Glenn Maxwell can just come in and take the game away from the opposition incredibly quickly. He's got all the shots. He hits the ball wherever he wants. You can't really captain against him, because wherever you set the field he's going to hit it where the fielders aren't.
He's incredibly talented, and the x-factor he provides in any team, is very special to be able to do that," said Watson. Watson heaped praise on Warner, who bagged the Allan Border Medal yesterday. "It's amazing to think that someone who initially started out as a T20 batsman like he was, took the game on and then just continued to transform into being an incredibly exciting Test batsman as well. He is so consistent at scoring big runs.
"If you look back over the years at how he's evolved, it's pretty incredible. While growing up, there are a lot of players who become Test cricketers and it's hard to be able to evolve into an ODI or T20 cricketer. But to go the other way and have the foundation of his batting technique like he does, it's very special talent that he's got."
On his feelings about being a part of the IPL players' auction for the first time since the inaugural year, after his previous franchise Rajasthan Royals were banished from the league for two years on charges o f corruption, Watson said he was looking forward to it.
"First of all it was very disappointing from Rajasthan Royal's point of view given the work and effort that has gone into the franchise. To get it to a point to where it was possible for us to make it to the finals (regularly), it is very sad to see that it is disbanded now.
"Players will now go in different directions, so to be able to get that quality team back again will certainly take a lot of time. In the end, it is just about T20 cricket now and IPL is a great tournament, and it is the first time I have been in the auction since the first year. So in the end I will be happy to go wherever, because it is always a great experience and I am looking forward to it," he said.