Going “hitter-heavy” deep in the batting order remains the best way forward for Australia despite a wobbly opening to its T20 World Cup defence and growing calls for Steve Smith to find his way into the team.
All-rounder Mitch Marsh dismissed any suggestion confidence among the reigning champions had been rattled in last Saturday’s thrashing by New Zealand that he conceded had put Australia’s “backs against the wall”.
Critics have come hard at the Australians for not picking Smith, given his peers as the world’s best batters, India’s Virat Kohli and New Zealand star Kane Williamson, are key men in their respective line-ups.
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The value of having matchwinning class was evident in Melbourne on Sunday night when Kohli’s brilliance guided his team to what seemed an improbable victory over Pakistan.
Marsh conceded Smith would be a “walk-up start” in most teams, but backed the Australian XI without him to take down Sri Lanka in Perth on Tuesday night and “get our World Cup going”.
“If you look down at our team, we have a pretty incredible batting line-up for a T20 side,” Marsh said.
“With Tim David coming into the side we’ve gone hitter-heavy, which will become really important if we can get off to a good start on the Australian grounds.
“(Smith) has been fantastic, for someone who has literally done everything in the game, has so much experience and in any other side in the world would be a walk-up start.
“We’re early on in the tournament, things can change, but for now we have a set XI and one that I truly believe in.”
Marsh, who was the man of the match in last year’s World Cup final, was adamant that once Australia got on a roll they’d be “hard to stop”.
“I think that we have a lot of confidence that once we get on a roll we’re going to be very hard to stop,” he said.
“We had so much cricket in the lead-up to the game, we had guys in and out, it was all about building to the World Cup.
“We didn’t start well but we have great self-belief. We know our best is the best in the world.”
Marsh said he was ready to rejoin Australia’s bowling battery, which was put to the sword by the Kiwis.
Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood in particular gave up 87 runs from their four overs, with all five bowlers used going for nine runs an over or more.
But returning to Perth, with expectations for a fast and bouncy wicket, Marsh said the Aussie quicks could have the perfect platform to shock the Sri Lankans.
“We’ll have an aggressive approach. The big three fast bowlers, when they get going, they are hard to stop, and after the other night, we’ll see a big response from them,” Marsh said.
“All the best players in the world bounce back, but that was only a minor setback.
“All the best fast bowlers in the world love bowling here, fast bouncy wicket, hopefully they will be fired up and ready to go.”