13/04/2024

Australian T20 captain Mitchell Marsh. (Photo - Cricket Australia)

With the 2024 T20 World Cup just over three months away, Australian T20 captain Mitchell Marsh is excited about the opportunity to lead a near full-strength squad against an in-form New Zealand.

The Australians used the recently concluded West Indies series to test their batting depth, with Josh Inglis and Aaron Hardie pressing claims for selection in the absence of multi-format players such as Travis Head and Steve Smith.

Marsh looks set to bat at three in the upcoming series but flagged the prospect of further experimentation.

”I’ve batted at three for the last 18 months, so I’ll be there to start with,” Marsh said. 

”Heady (Travis Head) and Davey Warner have been amazing for us, so I daresay that’ll be the top three.

”I think our top order’s pretty set moving forward, but I don’t think everyone’s going to play all three games throughout this series.”

Marsh also spoke about the threat posed by destructive opener Finn Allen, who’s struck 275 T20 international runs in 2024 at an average of 55.

”Especially at home in New Zealand, he can take the game away from you in that powerplay,” he said.

”So the onus is on us to try and take a few wickets in the powerplay and put them on the back foot.”

Australia’s second-string attack bowled admirably upfront against the West Indies, collecting six powerplay wickets in the last two T20 internationals after going wicketless in the first game.

With Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins returning for the New Zealand series, the Aussie pace attack looms as one of their greatest assets.

While Marsh currently holds the captaincy in a temporary capacity, it remains to be seen whether Australia parachutes Cummins into the role for the T20 World Cup following his success in the Test arena and last year’s ODI World Cup.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding his leadership, Marsh was jovial when asked about the prospect of leading Cummins.

”I can’t wait to tell him what to do,” he said.

”But I also feel pretty lucky to have someone like Pat as another leader to fall back on within our group, and the experienced heads we’ve got will help me at certain times throughout this series.”

The celebrated rivalry between the two nations will continue as they play for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy, which will now be awarded to the winner of the bilateral T20 series between the two nations in addition to the bilateral ODI series.

Marsh welcomes the change and hopes to play the Kiwis more frequently. 

”I think it’s a great initiative, and the more we can play for this trophy, the better.”

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The unusual dimensions of New Zealand’s Eden Park, the venue for the second and third T20 internationals, will present an interesting challenge for the Australians due to its extremely short straight boundaries. 

However, Marsh is enthusiastic about playing at a venue known for big hits and large totals. 

”From my own personal experience, it’s one of the best grounds in the world to play at,” he said.

”The 40-metre boundaries may prove hard work as a captain at times, but it’s all about embracing the experience, and the crowd there is outstanding.”

The first T20 international gets underway on Wednesday, February 21 at 5:10 AEDT.  

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