Aussies look for middle-order answers

Aussies look for middle-order answers

Australia want to give their middle-order batsmen a sustained run in the role to help do away with collapses like those seen in the opening T20 loss to England.

Australia’s middle lost 4-9 in their pursuit of 161 to claim the first game of the three-match series, throwing away a 98-run opening stand between David Warner and Aaron Finch.

With the game on the line, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Warner and Alex Carey all fell quickly, before Marcus Stoinis and Ashton Agar struggled to maintain the tempo required.

Worryingly for Australia, the two-run loss was not the first of its kind.

In their only other defeat in the T20 format in the past 18 months, they lost 4-19 against South Africa in Port Elizabeth in February.

On that occasion, Australia had the equation down to 55 from 42 balls before they ended up losing by 12 runs.

The issues were also there on a one-day tour of India earlier this year, where the lower-middle order couldn’t find boundaries late.

There is a suggestion part of the problem stems from the fact the majority of the team bat at the top in the Big Bash and domestic matches.

“It’s something we’ve spoken about for exactly that reason,” vice-captain Pat Cummins said.

“You could argue that middle-order role is one of the hardest in any cricket team. That’s what we’ve identified, we’ve got to give guys a go.

“Someone like MS Dhoni, he was one of the best in the world because he played 3-400 ODI games. “You saw during this week practice games we gave a lot of guys a go in that. We know it’s not going to happen overnight.

“That’s been a common theme that selectors and (captain Aaron) Finchy have spoken about: we’ll identify roles and give them a long run in that.”

Cummins admitted the squad had been left frustrated by Friday’s loss, which left Sunday night’s (Monday AEST) clash as a must-win match.

The team’s No.1 world ranking will also go on the line in the match, after they secured it for the first time in May.

“I felt like at times we were only one or two boundaries away from the game being finished in about the 15th over,” Cummins said.

“It’s a shame. Something we’re going to have to get better at. It’s happened a few times.”

© AAP