20/04/2024
Australian captain Aaron Finch

Aaron Finch will captain Australia for the white ball series against The West Indies (credit cricket.com.au)

Australia are travelling to St Lucia to take on the West Indies in a white ball series. The Inner Sanctum previews all the action

With the T20 world cup now only months away and quickly approaching. All eyes will be on Australia and The West Indies as they compete in five T20’s on the beautiful island of St Lucia. The first match will commence on the 10th of July live from 9:30 am.

Head-to-Head

Currently, the West Indies have the upper hand when it comes to head-to-head victories. The West Indies men have taken six games from eleven played compared to the Australians with five wins. Interestingly, of the two matches played in Saint Lucia, Australia has won both.

The West Indies have won the last three matches in which these two countries have competed. Unfortunately, the most recent of these came in 2014, with the sides having not played each other in T20s since that date.

The most recent clash between the two nations was in 2019 at the ODI World Cup. In that match, Nathan Coulter- Nile famously smashed 92 from number 8 to get Australia across the line.

With these countries not having played each other in a bilateral series in over seven years, viewers are in for an absolute treat. The teams are very different from the last encounter, with only four of Australia’s starting eleven still playing for the country. The West Indies side is just as different, but the name that sticks out is Chris Gayle. He will be a treat to watch in what will likely be his last series against Australia.

Key Players

Aaron Finch: Aaron Finch’s place in the side has been the source of much speculation over the last 12 months. His form over the Big Bash was horrific, where he averaged nine over the tournament. Fortunately, he turned that form around in Australia’s white-ball tour of New Zealand.

Overall, No one has a better T20 international record than Finch. Over his 71 T20 international matches, Finch has scored 2346 runs at an average of 38.45. The captain operates as a barometer for the Australian white-ball side and will be looking to lead from the front.

Keiron Pollard: It feels like the West Indies skipper has been around forever, and in some ways, he has. Pollard debuted in international T20 cricket in 2008 and has been ever-present since.

Surprisingly, he is only 34 years old. Many would think he is much older, considering his experience. Pollard will be key with both bat and ball. Over his 84 matches, Pollard averages 24.41 with the bat and 27 with the ball. However, more impressive is Pollard’s domestic T20 record, where he has scored over 10,000 runs in 545 games.

Having assumed control of the White-ball teams in West Indies cricket, Pollard will be looking to gather momentum for his team with a strong showing as they look to defend the T20 World Cup title they won back in 2016.

Mitchell Starc: When in full flight, there is no more damaging bowler in white-ball cricket. Starc has struggled over the last 12 months but will undoubtedly be an essential part of Australia’s tilt for a maiden T20 World Cup.

While he does not get to play a lot of the format due to test selection, Starc’s T20 international bowling record is unbelievable. In 35 games played to date, Starc has taken 47 wickets at an average of 19. Amazingly his economy rate is only 6.95, which is right up there with the elite quick bowlers in the world.

Andre Russell: He is often struck down by injury, but when he is out in the middle, there are few better in full flight to watch than big Dre- Russ.

Russell has dominated every league throughout the world and will be looking to dominate Australia as well. His international record is not as good as it should be compared to his domestic record, In T20 international, Russell averages only 19 with the bat and 36 with the ball. Compared to 26 with the bat, 25 with the ball in domestic T20 matches. The presence, power, and all-round ability should be enough to get West Indian fans excited. If Australia can keep Russell quiet, they will go a long way to winning the series.

Key Matchup

Chris Gayle v Mitchell Starc

Chris Gayle is one of the best T20 batters of all time. And while he is coming towards the end of his career, he is still as destructive as ever. Gayle will likely bat at three in a powerful West Indies line is up. Gayle averages over 30 in T20 internationals, including two massive centuries.

Similarly, to Chris Gayle, Mitchell Starc is also explosive and dangerous, with the white ball in hand. Starc has had success in almost all conditions in practically every country. With Starc taking the new ball and Gayle batting in the top order, there will be stiff competition between the two.

Whichever player can get on top of the other will go a long way to winning the series. However, there is a chance that Starc is not used in every game as Australia looks to blood players and use this as a warmup series for the World Cup.

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Players to Watch

Dan Christian: It was not that long ago that it seemed Christian would never get near the Australian team again. After a massive Big Bash and then getting an IPL contract, Christian is riding the wave of success once again.

The T20 title-winning globetrotter, Christian had a strike rate of over 180 in the Big Bash and will continue those skills into international cricket. After never having been given an extended run in the side, Christian will be grateful to be given a decent run. His record across all competitions speaks for itself. Christian has scored over 5000 runs at a strike rate of 139 and 259 wickets.

Justin Langer confirmed on Friday he will get his chance in the middle order, in what will be the start of Christian building his place to a potential swansong at the T20 World Cup later in the year.

Nicholas Pooran: Pooran has exploded onto the scene in recent years. His explosiveness and ability to hit sixes at will are some of the most exciting cricket in the world. While his recent IPL form was disappointing, there is no doubt he will work hard to get back to his best.

Throughout his T20 career, Pooran has scored 3244 runs at a strike rate of 142. A fantastic effort from someone who also must carry the responsibility of wicket keeping. Pooran dazzled in Australia with a stint for the Melbourne Stars in BBL10 and is a must-watch for Australian and West Indian fans alike.

Who’s Missing

The West Indies will be going in with a full-strength side. It would seem all the West Indian players are buying into the side, wanting to win the world cup.

The Australian side is slightly different. Eight Australians will be missing from Australia’s first choice squad as they have chosen not to tour because of COVID bubble fatigue.

White-ball regulars Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Pat Cummins, David Warner, Marcus Stoinis, Kane Richardson, and Jhye Richardson will all be out of action for the West Indies Series.

Predicted XI’s

Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Josh Phillippe, Matthew Wade, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey (wk), Daniel Christian, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood, Adam Zampa.

West Indies: Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Andre Russell, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Kieron Pollard (c), Jason Holder, Dwayne Bravo, Obed McCoy, Fidel Edwards

The Squads

Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Wes Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Dan Christian, Josh Hazelwood, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa. Travelling reserves: Nathan Ellis, Tanveer Sangha.

West Indies: Kieron Pollard (c), Nicholas Pooran (VC), Fidel Edwards, Andre Fletcher, Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Kevin Sinclair, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr, Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Andre Russell, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Lendl Simmons.

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