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Not much riding on T20 contests, says Watson

Cricket

Twenty20 is the one format Australia are yet to dominate.

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They won the inaugural T20 International against New Zealand in Auckland – made famous for Glenn McGrath’s feigned under-arm delivery, the opposition’s beige bucket hats and Hamish Marshall’s afro.

But since the format has become serious business, success has proven elusive.

Australia’s win-loss T20 rate is a tick over 50 per cent, while they’ve failed to lift the trophy at all four World Cups.

Part of that record is explained by the hit-or-miss nature of shortened contests.

But not all of it, according to Watson – who has played in all four of the side’s T20 World Cup bids.

Watson, named player of the tournament at the 2012 World Cup, feels scheduling has made it hard to build the same confidence exhibited by the Test and ODI sides.

T20 clashes are usually tacked onto the end of an ODI series and often the first thing to be cut in jam-packed schedules – Australia played a single T20 fixture in 2015.

“There’s not much continuity with the Twenty20 group until really it gets into Twenty20 World Cup mode,” Watson said.

“The make-up of the Twenty20 squad [often changes].

“It makes it very, very challenging… that’s one of the major reasons why we have been so inconsistent.”

Watson added the contests often boiled down to “pure entertainment value” when the carrot of a World Cup wasn’t there.

“It’s challenging. Apart from a Twenty20 World Cup, there really isn’t that much riding on the series apart from of course national pride,” he said.

“There’s no rankings and big things.”

Bowling looms as a major concern in the side’s upcoming World Cup campaign, which starts against New Zealand in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala on March 18.

The national pace battery was depleted recently by Mitchell Johnson’s retirement, while Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins remain sidelined because of injuries.

Johnson, Starc and Cummins were all part of Australia’s successful ODI World Cup campaign in 2015.

“There’s no doubt some of the injuries we’ve had are big blows… especially someone like Mitchell Starc,” Watson said.

“He’s an incredible T20 bowler … he’s got incredible skill with the brand new ball and at the back end of a game as well.

“But the guys we’ve got coming into the team, they’ve got very good skills and good experience.”

-AAP

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