Australian Twenty20 captain George Bailey had big shoes to fill, after the national side won an astonishing 12 of 13 games against England during the recent summer.
Travelling to Bangladesh red hot on form, things took a turn the moment Pakistan wielded the willow in their first group game in Mirpur.
Unnervingly, there seemed to be too much of a focus on cracking the biggest sixes, rather than compiling a large total through timing and fast-paced run scoring.
Pressure in Twenty20 is more intense than 50-over or test-match cricket, and it showed on Bailey’s face.
With a bowling attack that screamed unprepared selectors, the task was never going to be easy. Only a few shining lights kept the Australians in the games; and it was not until the final match of the group stage that a win was mustered.
Australia’s most explosive batsman only managed one significant score, 48 against Bangladesh. His tournament average of 22.75 is almost six runs below his career average. The left-hander was too often flustered and dismissed trying to play a big shot too early.
Essentially a right-handed version of Warner, Finch stepped up when many couldn’t, and almost helped Australia over the line in the first game. He did so against Bangladesh, but when under the pump, he succumbed to excellent bowling. Partnership with Glenn Maxwell against Pakistan a spectacle; lusty hitting with high rewards.
Disappointing is an understatement. With his test spot seemingly hanging by a thread for the past two years, the highest run scorer of the 2012 World Twenty20 did not bring the fireworks this time around. Just seven runs in four matches may suggest the all-rounder needs to decide if he continues in all three forms.
Nicknamed “The Big Show” for a good reason. Maxwell’s risky batting paid off against Pakistan; he scored 74 at a strike rate of more than 200 (and 210 for the competition). Only one of two Aussies to get past 50 in an innings (Finch being the other). Small impact with the ball but extremely pleasing to watch; become unstuck facing the Indian spinners.
Onus on the captain from ball one to lead by example. Never got out of the starting blocks with the bat, and bizarre bowling changes at the death raised questions from cricket journalists on social media. Too susceptible to spin, and found going for the big shot when it wasn’t on.
Hard done by not to get a go early. Short-form performances during Australian summer suggested he was a lock from game one. Hindered by team performance, and did not feature with the ball.
The veteran of Twenty20 for Australia was yet another who faltered on the dry, spinning pitches. Cameo of 35 from the 39-year-old Victorian displayed just how hard he still hits them. Picked up wicket of Rohit Sharma early against India, but could not stop the later onslaught.
Fantastic behind the stumps, but wounded with the bat. Became another member of the middle order to fall to unnecessary slogging. However, by the time Haddin strode to the crease, most of the damage had been done by the bowlers. Could suggest his time is up soon.
Played just one game against the West Indies, and almost won the game for Australia; Darren Sammy changed proceedings by smacking two sixes to guide his side to victory. Bowling and batting figures cannot do the clever-but-excited all-rounder justice.
Thrown around in shifting squad, but displayed the maturity of someone ten years his senior with ball in hand. Snared the key wicket of Chris Gayle in the West Indies match, but largely underused in conditions suited to spin bowlers.
One over was all it took to see Starc’s campaign dwindle. Australia’s leading wicket taker, but at an expense of 29.20 per scalp. Consistency was a problem, conceding more than nine runs per over. Not assisted by fellow pacemen.
Took mantle as Australia’s best bowler (tournament figures of 4/53) but played just two matches. Like Faulkner, under-appreciated in a rotating side. Produced decent swing to have batsmen guessing.
Given just one match, against Pakistan, and promptly belted by Umar and Kamran Akmal. Was not able to find an ideal line and length, letting the opposition off the hook. Selected in the side on the back of a solid Big Bash League campaign for the Perth Scorchers.
The New South Wales paceman has faced critics, but conceded just 7.31 runs per over on sometimes dewy pitches and outfields. Good exponent of the swing early; only bowler to bowl genuine, fast yorkers.
Played against Bangladesh but major impact made by Coulter-Nile, Finch and Warner. Destructive when given the chance but time not on his side.
Overall “grade”– D+
Australia has not yet won the World Twenty20, and expectations were high – but the squad was vastly different from what fans saw over the summer. Playing only one spinner in each game also let the batsmen run riot – especially against India, where Ravi Ashwin (4/11) made the green and gold look like they were playing in the park.
The consolation win against Bangladesh was a pleasing sight, but it does little to cover up a poor campaign with a hurried strategy. George Bailey is a good captain, but was not supported by any fluent teamwork or game plan on the field.
Australia does not play another international game until October, against Pakistan in Dubai. Several players will be heading to the Indian Premier League, while most will enjoy the break. In that time, though, finding an answer to the Twenty20 woes should be of importance if bringing home the trophy is to happen.