Mark Waugh calls for change after New Zealand loss, Sri Lanka, preview


A taxing build-up and mounting fatigue is “no excuse” for Australia’s false start at the T20 World Cup, where Mark Waugh has urged the nation to adapt better under pressure.

Australia was given a sobering reality check in its opening match on Saturday as New Zealand outshone the lacklustre hosts in all three disciplines.

The game was out of Australia’s hands in a matter of minutes; the decision to bowl first backfiring as openers Finn Allen and Devon Conway smashed 46 runs from the opening three overs.

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Captain Aaron Finch opted to keep the pace on for too long despite the Kiwi assault in friendly batting conditions, and was spooked out of bowling Glenn Maxwell due to Conway’s ability against spin.

Adam Zampa conceded after the match that Australia was too slow in assessing the conditions and made the wrong choices as New Zealand posted a matchwinning 3-200.

“Making the right decisions earlier, it’s probably ‘do we take the pace off the second, third or fourth over just to change it up a bit’. Probably in hindsight we could have,” Zampa said.

“Maxi’s a great option for us as well, think we made some poor decisions, took us a little longer to assess the conditions.”

Australia legend Waugh agrees, saying that spin bowling could’ve been used more often, and sooner.

Ultimately, he thinks that Australia was caught by surprise.


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Australia was given a sobering reality check in its opening match on Saturday.
Australia was given a sobering reality check in its opening match on Saturday.Source: Getty Images

“I just don’t think we were prepared for what was going on,” Waugh told on Monday. “We didn’t think New Zealand would come out and play like that and you’ve got to think on your feet sometimes.

“You’ve got to change your game plan, and go with your gut feeling sometimes rather than planning everything before the game and it gets a bit too structured.”

He added: “Sometimes you’ve got to give credit to the opposition. They played superbly, they could not have played any better than that, and we couldn’t have played any worse, to be honest.”

Waugh said Maxwell should’ve bowled to change things up with Australia’s prearranged plans clearly not working.

Australia didn’t feel Maxwell matched up well with Conway, but it’s worth noting that the opener went unbeaten anyway, scoring 92 not out off 58 balls, while every bowler — pace on, or off — leaked at least nine runs an over.

“The pace just wasn’t working and I thought we bowled it in the ‘hit me’ zone a bit,” Waugh said. “We probably just overpitched it. I think Adam Zampa overpitched it as well.”

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The loss could have dire consequences for the defending champions.

Even with one defeat, Australia is already flirting with elimination given the massive blow to its net run rate, and the fact that a daunting meeting with the pool’s highest-ranked nation, England, still looms.

Australia is making no excuses for the poor start in Sydney, but the energy levels within the team is one concern Finch flagged a week out from game one.

Finch said players were feeling “tired” after playing five white ball series, including one in India, back-to-back before the World Cup.

Asked if Australia was still showing signs of fatigue, Waugh said: “You can look for any excuse you want but that shouldn’t be a factor.

“These guys are fit cricketers, they travel the year-round. I mean, the preparation probably wasn’t ideal, travelling around, but a lot of players rested, (they were) travelling business class. They’re well looked after, they’re well pampered, so I just don’t see that as an excuse.

“It’s a World Cup. If you’re not ready to go at a World Cup you’re never going to be, so I think fatigue is just an excuse.

“I don’t think the players really believe that’s a factor. I don’t think fatigue had anything to do with it, I just think on the day we didn’t play to our ability and New Zealand took the game by the scruff of the neck.”

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Australia now faces Sri Lanka in Perth (Tuesday 10pm AEDT) where another loss will all but end the nation’s hopes of reaching the semi finals.

Should Finch win another toss, the numbers suggest there’s a strong chance he will elect to chase again, as has been the overwhelming preference in recent times.

In the past two years, Australia has elected to field first in 23 of the 30 tosses it has won, going on to win on 13 of those occasions.

The stats show it’s often a smart call with all of the world’s leading cricket nations boasting positive win-loss ratios when chasing over the past two years.

Pakistan (4.2), India (5.3), Australia (1.2), England (1.2), New Zealand (2.8), South Africa (1.5) and Sri Lanka (1.7) have had varying success when batting second, but one thing is consistent: they all win more often than not.

But different situations and conditions will still present themselves, demanding greater flexibility.

Waugh said that should Finch win another toss, he’d like to see Australia bat first to “make a statement”.

“Every game we’ve won the toss and wanted to bowl. Even in the (pre-tournament) white ball games we wanted to bowl first. (Get) runs on the board, make a statement,” Waugh said.

“Get in there and have a bat, make a big score and put the pressure on the opposition. So I’d like to see that happen.”

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Waugh acknowledged that the numbers point to batting second being more fruitful, but noted that the figures don’t account for World Cup pressure.

“In a World Cup game, runs on the board are always vital. It’s tough chasing big scores,” he said. “Even a score like 160, which you think is gettable, it’s tough in a big game chasing that sort of score.

“I think sometimes we do get a bit carried away in this format bowling first. It’s just the stats I think. It’s so stats driven this game but you’ve got to go with your gut sometimes.

“Stats are there, they’re a good back-up and can show some patterns, but sometimes you’ve got to go with your gut. If you see a good batting pitch, good batting conditions, surely you bat first.

“That’s the way we sort of played the game. I know it’s changed a bit, but you’ve got to be flexible whatever you do at the end of the day.”

Marcus Stoinis said Australia won’t hit the panic button before Tuesday night, saying that the players thrive off this high-pressure situation.

“At the end of the day this is what we love to do – we know that we’ve performed under pressure,” Stoinis said. “We know that when our backs are against the wall we can pull out the performances we want.

“We trust ourselves and we trust each other. I think sometimes the environment helps create a bit of that.”


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