Twenty20 took Australia by surprise
As Australia flies out of South Africa with just 11 fit players for a one-day tournament in India beginning on Saturday, coach Tim Nielsen has admitted the squad was surprised by the pace of the Twenty20 World Cup.
"It's probably the intensity of Twenty20 cricket where it's played at this format which caught us out initially," Nielsen said.
The intensity has taken its toll, with Australia's selectors constantly on the phone over the past week as injured players and their replacements came and went. Perhaps the most talked-about player has been Brad Haddin, who actually hasn't gone anywhere yet.
A peripheral international rewarded for his outstanding success at domestic level, the NSW wicketkeeper, who was on this tour as a reserve batsman, was to fly home after the Twenty20 World Cup, reducing the squad for the seven-match Indian one-day series to 14.
However, he was initially retained for cover until Ricky Ponting's hamstring strain recovered sufficiently for him to begin playing again at some stage during the Indian tour.
Now Haddin is a permanent member of the squad again, this time for another hamstring victim, Mike Hussey, while Adam Voges, the Australia A captain on the recently completed tour of Pakistan, is flying to India as cover for Ponting and will return home when the captain is fit.
James Hopes is already winging his way to India to replace Australia's third hamstring victim, Shane Watson, who has returned home with Hussey and Nathan Bracken, who is on compassionate leave to be with his wife for the birth of their child.
At least Bracken is still fit and is expected to return to India at some stage during the one-day series.
His early absence is likely to give young fast bowler Ben Hilfenhaus, a pre-tour replacement for the injured Shaun Tait, a chance to add to the single one-day international he played last summer.
Hilfenhaus and spinner Brad Hogg were the only two members of the 15-man squad not to play in the tournament, although Hilfenhaus was impressive in a couple of practice matches.
However, with Indian conditions likely to favour spin, the experienced if underdone Hogg may get the chance ahead of Hilfenhaus, although they both could play given the pasting Australia's part-time spinners, Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke, have taken in this tournament.
That would leave Hogg as the all-rounder batting at No7 in place of Haddin, an uncomfortable scenario.
While Australia's batsmen struggled with injuries and consistency in the tournament, the fast-bowling quartet of Brett Lee, Bracken, Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson was outstanding.
Acting captain Adam Gilchrist readily acknowledges they were the reason Australia made it to the semi-finals before being knocked out by India, which played Pakistan in the final overnight.
"Our bowlers have been pretty spot-on every game," Gilchrist said, praising the progress of Johnson in particular. "I really like the way the ball is coming out for him at the moment."
Nielsen claimed that having a full international Twenty20 tournament, with all that it entailed, had made the ultra-short version of the game very different to what the Australians had experienced.
"It's so fast and we've only played one-off games in the past," Nielsen said.
This inaugural event was supposed to be the perfect warm-up for the Australian season, with bowlers allowed only four overs per game, batsmen at the crease for no more than 20 overs and fielders on the ground for little more than an hour.
Instead it has been a fitness nightmare.
Gilchrist readily admits that the team went into the tournament under-prepared so as not to overload themselves too soon at the start of 18 months of solid cricket.
"We knew we were underdone," Gilchrist said. "We realised that very quickly."