Canberra: Australia coach Justin Langer said selectors will likely resist mixing up the Twenty20 team for the series finale against Pakistan in Perth despite his side holding an unassailable 1-0 lead.
Australia’s dominant seven-wicket win over Pakistan in Canberra on Tuesday means the hosts cannot lose the series but Langer insisted a series win remains their priority.
“We’ve got a great squad,” Langer said in Canberra before the Australians flew out for Friday’s clash at Perth Stadium. “We’ll have a look at the wicket. It might be a bit fast and bouncy at the new stadium. “We’ll see how that goes but we’ll be looking to win the series.”
Australia will make at least one change after it was announced Pat Cummins will travel to Sydney to prepare for the upcoming Test series.
It’s expected he will play in next week’s Sheffield Shield match for NSW against Western Australia at the SCG, alongside Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Steve Smith and David Warner in preparation for the two-match Test series against Pakistan which will commence with the first match at the Gabba from November 21.
It will mark his only long-form hit out before the first Test, with the team set to arrive in camp in Brisbane on Sunday week.
“It’s a little bit of recovery and preparing for the Test match,” Langer said. “We’ve got so much cricket on and he plays a lot of it so we’ve got the opportunity for him not to take the long flight to Perth.”
Billy Stanlake would be expected to come into Australia’s team, while Sean Abbott could also be called upon as an extra quick depending on the surface, but the batting order looks set to stay as is.
Explosive batter D’Arcy Short was called into the squad after Glenn Maxwell withdrew to manage his mental health, with Ben McDermott taking the Victorian’s spot in the starting XI.
With the T20 World Cup less than 12 months away on home soil, Langer says the focus on T20 cricket is only going to get stronger, meaning the days of resting players for entire T20 series are over.
“In the past we’ve used these opportunities [T20 series] to rest some of those guys but we need to get better at it [T20 cricket],” Langer said.
“It’s something that’s a priority for Australian cricket so therefore you want to play your best players as often as you can We’re really lucky, we’ve got great depth in the squad. We’ve got a ripping bunch of blokes in this squad and that’s really pleasing.”
Australia have gone undefeated in their past seven T20 Internationals, a golden run not seen since 2010.
One major factor in the streak has been the return of Steve Smith, who last night put on a masterclass in the nation’s capital.
Smith scored an unbeaten 80 from 51 balls and wowed the buzzing Manuka Oval with his trademark unorthodox stroke play that left his teammates and his coach lost for words.
“He plays shots … you just shake your head,” Langer said. “You’re sitting on the bench with the boys and they’re just looking at me going ‘how’s he do that?’. It’s got me buggered, I don’t know. He’s getting better and better and it’s great for Australian cricket.”
Smith is the No 1 Test batter in the world, but given he had not played a T20 in three-and-a-half years since the preceding series against Sri Lanka, the right-hander has dropped out of the ICC’s top 100 ranked T20 batsmen.
But if his form continues, Smith could soon hold the top spot in more than one format.
“Hopefully he’s ranked No 1 in all three forms,” said Langer. “I’m sure he’ll be aspiring to do that. I’m hoping all of our players are aspiring to it as well.
“His greatest strength is his ability to solve problems and whether it’s in Test cricket or T20 cricket that’s what he’s so good at. The best players in the world … adapt to white or red ball, 20-over or Test cricket. It’s not a fluke he’s a great player.”