Fill-in Australia coach Andrew McDonald has hinted at changes for the visitors’ do-or-die third T20 against New Zealand.
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McDonald has been particularly disappointed with Australia’s bowling during the middle overs in the five-match T20 tour, which has enabled the Blackcaps to post scores of 5-184 and 7-219.
New Zealand dominated the 10 overs following the powerplay in the first two matches, with Australia bleeding 1-98 in the first clash and 2-130 in the second as Devon Conway, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson and James Neesham flayed the bowling attack.
“We haven’t got those middle overs right,” McDonald said.
“That may be a reason for us to reinforce that area or make some changes that potentially strengthen that area with both bat and ball.”
But Australia’s potential team changes are unlikely to fill fans with a great amount of confidence.
Drafting in D’Arcy Short or Ashton Turner at the expense of Ashton Agar would be highly unlikely to improve Australia’s bowling in the middle overs.
Subbing in Jason Behrendorff, Riley Meredith or Andrew Tye at the expense of Agar would all but certainly improve Australia’s middle-over bowling but would weaken the batting line-up.
Tanveer Sangha was a strong performer for the Sydney Thunder in the latest BBL summer but replacing Agar with him would weaken both Australia’s batting and bowling.
And no bowler who’s yet to feature in this series presents as a better option than Australia’s frontline bowlers for the first two T20s: Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams and Adam Zampa.
Despite having hinted at changes for the third match, McDonald was supportive of both Agar and Zampa.
“Agar has played two games in the last three-and-a-half months as well, so he’s going to be better every game that he plays,” McDonald said.
“Zampa at this stage hasn’t gotten into the games … (but) his quality over the last two years suggests that the next game he probably will have an impact.”
Australia’s players yet to be used in this series are Behrendorff, Meredith, Tye, Short, Turner, Sangha and Ben McDermott.
The tour of New Zealand carries enormous importance as a chance for Australia to continue to work toward finding the best XI for this year’s T20 World Cup, set to be held in India across October and November.
“One thing we can control is the bowling, so we’ll look at how we use our bowling through that phase of the game,” McDonald said.
“We’re clearly trying to be aggressive as a batting unit through that period anyway, so (any changes are) more about how we defend the New Zealand batters and what match-ups we use through that period of time to get the most improvement in our performance.
“We’ve got a big squad of 18 players here … Every player that came on this tour (is) a live chance.”