Aussies yet to devise plan
Ruthless Australia admits it has not mapped out a game plan for tonight's Twenty20 international against South Africa – except for perhaps the biggest plan of all..
Ruthless Australia admits it has not mapped out a game plan for tonight's Twenty20 international against South Africa – except for perhaps the biggest plan of all.
"It would be nice to keep them down while they are in Australia," vice-captain Mike Hussey said.
"We want a psychological advantage over South Africa leading into the one-day series."
Australia will approach tonight's Gabba showdown – its third 20-over international but its first on home shores – trying to take the entertainment-driven new format as seriously as possible.
Ricky Ponting's inexperienced Twenty20 outfit contains only three survivors from the recent 2-0 Test series win.
There will be plenty of young guns, like Queensland duo Mitchell Johnson and James Hopes, trying to make names for themselves.
But with off-field entertainment including breakdancers and live music, the players know the fledgling project is as much about fun as performance.
Steady rain in Brisbane yesterday failed to ruin a sense of carnival-type expectation with only 2000 tickets remaining to be sold to ensure the match is played before a sellout crowd of 37,000.
Hussey, in his first outing in a leadership role with the Australian team, admits there is no science to the hit-and-giggle game in which batsmen invent new shots and bowlers send down some quirky deliveries.
"With Twenty20 you can't really plan a good strategy. You've got to think on your feet as much as possible," he said.
"There are players around the world who have different, innovative shots and I guess you've just got to react to that as quickly as you possibly can."
Reaction to the 20-over game, which has been a huge hit in Britain since it was introduced at domestic level in 2003, has been mixed.
Its supporters say the novelty factor attracts a new audience – who can then dip their toes into the traditional forms of cricket.
Detractors, including former Test opening batsman Keith Stackpole, caution that it is a money-driven concept which threatens to cannibalise cricket when young players copy wrong methods.
The consensus is that the format has a promising future at domestic level but its international future is probably best limited to one-off showpiece events.
"I think Cricket Australia is having a bit of a suck-it-and-see sort of attitude at the moment," Hussey said.
"I don't think you want to take focus too much away from the one-dayers.
"You have to look at the scheduling of Twenty20 to see whether it's a strong enough market. There is a lot of research to be done."
Australia has no plans to copy the retro style of New Zealand players who turned up wearing terry-towelling hats and sporting unusual facial hair for a Twenty20 match in Auckland last year.
However, some of Australia's bowlers may reprise the white headbands worn by Queensland players in a Twenty20 state match at the Gabba last Friday.
South Africa will rest allrounder Jacques Kallis, seam duo Andre Nel and Charl Langeveldt, and allrounder Justin Kemp.
The Proteas say there are no longer any injury concerns over Kallis – who missed the opening Test in Perth with tennis elbow – and all players rested from tonight's match will be available for the VB Series which starts later this week.
AUSTRALIA: Ricky Ponting (c), Brad Haddin, Damien Martyn, Mike Hussey, Mick Lewis, Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke, Stuart Clark, Simon Katich, James Hopes, Nathan Bracken, Mitchell Johnson (12th man to be named).
SOUTH AFRICA: Graeme Smith (c), Johan Botha, Mark Boucher, Boeta Dippenaar, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Hall, Garnett Kruger, Shaun Pollock, Ashwell Prince, Jacques Rudolph, Monde Zondeki, Charl Langeveldt (likely 12th man).