Despite Australia having won four of their five games in the tournament so far and sitting atop the points table, assistant coach Brad Haddin has said they are still looking for their best starting XI. Not all of their four wins have been convincing and add to that Marcus Stoinis injury, and that balance has been skewed further, bringing to the fore the need to be flexible.
“At the moment, we’re still trying to find that best XI,” Haddin said on Wednesday (June 18). “Marcus has thrown a spanner into everything there with his injury and how important an all-rounder he is. We’re still trying to find what best works for us.”
Mitchell Marsh is on standby for Stoinis, whose injury, in turn, played a part in Australia leaving out both spinners against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
“Come later in the tournament, we’ll start to understand what the conditions are like a lot better and what is our best XI. The players understand that and we’re training them accordingly,” he said. “I think one of the luxuries at the moment is we’re still winning, and we still haven’t found the perfect rhythm for our game, which is a dangerous sign moving forward.”
While that may be the case, finding ways to win irrespective, is a positive sign for the defending champions. “What we’re doing at the moment is some really good signs in tournament play,” said Haddin. “There are some signs out there we’re doing some things really well, and some signs that we need to work on things. It’s important we get to these bigger games and see where we really are leading into the back-end of the tournament. It’s sort of panning out how we expected in tournament play.”
Prior to the induction of Steve Smith and David Warner in the XI, Usman Khawaja was set in the opening slot alongside skipper Aaron Finch. With Warner now taking the opening slot, Khawaja has had to drop to No. 3 and No. 4, even being demoted to No. 6 against Pakistan, bringing uncertainty in the roles of the batsmen, which has seen Khawaja’s effectiveness and form from the last few months warning.
Along with Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell’s role has been another subject of discussion, who was sent in at 4 against Pakistan but batted lower in the other games.
“The one thing we’ve found with Glenn is he’s an explosive player and as you’ve seen [against Sri Lanka] he can turn a game very quickly by himself, but he’s also got to fit into what’s best for the team at that time,” Haddin said. We’ve moved him up and down, and that might look like nervous decisions that we’re making, but we’ve spoken about them a lot before. It’s not a shock that he’s moving up and down the order, and all the players understand that. He’s pretty confident as well. I don’t think it’ll worry him.
“Khawaja is playing a different role. It’s not that he’s not having success, he’s been in a role where he’s had limited opportunities,” Haddin explained. “Before, he could go out and set the pace of the innings and now the innings is dictating the role he needs to play. He’s been okay with it – he’s a class act. We’re pretty happy with where he’s at – he’s just got to bat the situation, and No.3 is not uncommon to him. He’s played most of his career at No.3 in state cricket and Test cricket.”