Steve Smith 'mistake' exposes Australia's T20 World Cup truth
Australia was doomed to T20 World Cup failure thanks to the stubborn refusal to select former Test captain Steve Smith in crucial group stage matches, Mark Taylor believes.
Smith played only in Australia's group stage victory over Afghanistan, overlooked for crucial matches against New Zealand and Ireland in favour of Tim David.
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A combination of poor net run rate and matches abandoned due to rain conspired against Australia, who finished even on points in their group alongside England and New Zealand.
It was the Kiwis who will move on in the tournament courtesy of having the highest net run rate of the three, with the hosts left to rue a missed opportunity to beef their own net rate up against Ireland.
Taylor said Australia's stated desire to play 'fearless' cricket had backfired, believing the amount of wet pitches used during the tournament might have necessitated selecting an older head in Smith to handle the conditions.
"As we've seen in this tournament, pitches have done it big, you need someone like a Steve Smith. New Zealand had Kane Williamson," Taylor observed.
"India had Virat Kohli, who has been the player of the tournament, to steady the ship in the middle overs. It hasn't been a thrash and bash tournament, you've needed someone to guide the innings and Australia sadly lacked a Steve Smith in that middle order."
Taylor conceded it was highly unlikely Smith would be available at the next T20 World Cup in 2025, but was nevertheless disappointed he had been a relative non-factor on home soil.
"It's difficult for me to see Steve Smith miss out on any game for Australia," he told Nine's Sports Sunday.
"They went into the tournament saying they were going to play fearless cricket which is great, but I think preferring Tim David over Steve Smith in that batting order has been a mistake."
Shane Watson slams selectors after T20 World Cup disappointment
Shane Watson claims coach Andrew McDonald and his selectors should come under the microscope for Australia's T20 World Cup failure, blasting the decision to drop Mitchell Starc against Afghanistan.
The fallout from Australia's failed campaign continued on Monday, at a time when most expected the hosts to be preparing for a semi-final.
Watson argued Australia's team lacked intensity throughout, saying they already appeared deflated by the end of the first over of their opening loss to New Zealand at the SCG.
He has also been critical of Australia's long lead-up to the tournament, in which selectors tinkered with the team and moved players into different roles.
But he saved his strongest criticism for the decision to play Kane Richardson ahead of noted wicket-taker Starc against Afghanistan, a game in which Australia needed to roll through their rivals cheaply.
"I was gobsmacked that he missed out," Watson said.
"He bowled a couple of really nice balls against Ireland and started to get that late swing.
"So I was thinking if someone was going to get dropped, it might have been Pat Cummins.
"I really feel for (Starc) because he didn't deserve to be dropped for the game.
"Those things send shockwaves through a team, and unfortunately in a big game where the Aussies had to step up and dominate, they weren't able to do it.
"There are a lot of questions that need to be answered by the coaches and the selection staff to be able to right the wrongs."
McDonald on Sunday defended the decision to omit Starc, claiming they wanted Richardson's late-over bowling ahead of the left-armer.
The gamble did not pay off, with Richardson taking 1-48.
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