Australia will head into the 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup aiming to write a new chapter in cricket history by becoming the only men’s team to hold the ICC Test Championship title, the 50-over World Cup trophy and the T20 crown.

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T20 World Cup Tickets | T20 World Cup 2024 Tickets
T20 World Cup Tickets | T20 World Cup 2024 Tickets

And they have enough experience in their ranks to reach the top. After a disappointing T20 World Cup campaign at home in 2022, their new Twenty20 (T20) captain Mitchell Marsh will be looking to turn things around for the United States and West Indies.

According to former women’s team captain Lisa Sthalekar, Marsh’s limited leadership experience [in eight games] in T20Is will not hinder the world champions’ march towards the record books. He [Marsh] has been involved in Australian cricket for a long time and has strengthened his position, Sthalekar said.

“He captained [Australia’s domestic team] Perth Scorchers and while the T20 World Cup will be a different experience, I’m sure he’s ready and raring to go.”

Marsh’s Leadership and Recent Renaissance

Marsh’s arrival at the helm of the Australian T20 team coincides with his international renaissance in recent years. The 32-year-old was the player of the final when Australia won their first T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates in 2021.

Sthalekar – a former successful all-rounder with eight Test matches, 125 one-day internationals and 54 T20s to her name – believes her countrymen will enter the tournament with a good core group of experienced players and Marsh will use that to her advantage.

 “They all know each other’s roles and responsibilities, Sthalekar said. They’ve played so much cricket with each other that I don’t think they even need to communicate half the time. They just look at each other and they seem to enjoy it all.”  

T20 World Cup Tickets | T20 World Cup 2024 Tickets
T20 World Cup Tickets | T20 World Cup 2024 Tickets

Australia’s Explosive T20 World Cup Squad

Australia’s squad includes explosive T20 players including David Warner, Travis Head, Tim David and Glenn Maxwell. Richly experienced sizzlers Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc will have the ability to take their opposition batsmen to task, while their wily spinner Adam Zampa could get a big boost on the Caribbean pitches in the latter stages of the tournament.

The notable omission of Steve Smith may lead to staff shortages in the middle-order and spin bowling departments, but Sthalekar believes it is indicative of where the T20 format is heading and what brand of cricket Australia wants to play.

Sthalekar believes Australia have covered all the bases except left-arm wrist spin. Zampa’s performances have been outstanding and while [all-rounder] Maxwell’s form has not been the best in the Indian Premier League (IPL), he has been quite effective with the ball.

Australia’s Recent Experience in the Caribbean

Australia last played in the Caribbean three years ago, but that may not have any impact on their preparations for the tournament as they waste no time acclimatizing to local conditions. Perhaps it comes down to their team’s experience of playing in all parts of the world, which was highlighted by their triumph in the World Test Championship final in London in June and the 50-over World Cup final against favorites and hosts India in Ahmedabad in November.

Whatever the conditions, Sthalekar expects Australia to adapt quickly. We don’t know what the pitches will do until we get there, but those who play in the IPL have traveled to different grounds and have had to constantly adapt. The current generation of cricketers have learned to adapt to busy schedules.

T20 World Cup Tickets | T20 World Cup 2024 Tickets
T20 World Cup Tickets | T20 World Cup 2024 Tickets

And they adapted. Australia arrived in the Caribbean in batches, with IPL-associated players arriving last. Showcasing their strength and experience, the five-time 50-over champions cruised to a seven-wicket win over Namibia in a pre-tournament warm-up match with only nine members of the team fielding. You can also read Australia vs Scotland ICC T20 World Cup Showdown: A Clash of Titans.

Members of their backroom staff and the national selector were left to make up the numbers as Australia fielded and led Namibia to 119 runs. The 2021 champions then chased down the target with 10 overs to spare.

With the Women’s Over-50 and T20 World Cup titles also in their grasp, Australia will cement their dominance over cricket if they go on to lift the Men’s T20 World Cup on June 29 in Barbados.

Sthalekar’s three Australian players to watch in T20 World Cup

Adam Zampa: The leg-spinner can play a key role in the middle overs and Sthalekar believes he has a big tournament ahead of him where he will do some wonders.

David Warner: The flamboyant opening batter will define all of international cricket post-tournament and Sthalekar thinks he would like to ‘go out with a bang’.

The batter was injured in the IPL and missed a few matches and while Sthalekar believes he may struggle to perform immediately after returning to the team, Warner cannot be discounted as he has a knack for making people look stupid.

T20 World Cup Tickets | T20 World Cup 2024 Tickets
T20 World Cup Tickets | T20 World Cup 2024 Tickets

Pat Cummins: Responsible for Australia’s scoring form last year, Cummins is the man Sthalekar expects to play an important role with both bat and ball. She said given his form, performance and the fact that he is not captain, it will be nice for him to go out on the field and play a game.

Mitch Marsh goes from larrikin to leader as Australia’s T20 World Cup captain

The all-rounder missed out on his biggest moments and contemplated retirement but will now lead his team in the US and the Caribbean. When Mitchell Marsh leads his men as Australia captain to the 2024 T20 World Cup this month, there will be a twinkle in his eye.

At 32, the great all-rounder appears to be finally entering his prime, scoring a famous century at Headingley in the 2023 Ashes and winning the Allan Border Medal as the 2024 Men’s Player of the Year. It is the glimmer of a man who has walked along a low road to a higher place.

The West Australian says it is his life’s journey, not his cricketing career, that will guide his leadership of a 15-man unit that combines old warhorses and raw hitters. “Captainship is about connection,” Marsh says. It’s not about going to the pub for a beer – not everyone enjoys that as much as I do – but about being close and understanding who these guys are as people to build relationships and trust.

Marsh himself had finally won the trust of the Australian cricket public after a torrid decade during which his prodigious talent remained largely unfulfilled. “In the first 10 years, I was given many opportunities, but I failed many times,” he says. I had to learn to deal with this failure and it was holding me back. Every time I failed, it frustrated me, and when you want to succeed and you keep failing, life becomes very difficult.

High Expectations and Early Promise

But Marsh’s broad shoulders were intended to place high expectations on him. He comes from a proud family of cricketers (father Geoff and older brother Sean were both Test batters) and made his mark as a swashbuckling teenager, winning Western Australia’s cap at 17 and leading Australia’s under-19 team at the 2010 Cricket World Cup.

T20 World Cup Tickets | T20 World Cup 2024 Tickets
T20 World Cup Tickets | T20 World Cup 2024 Tickets

With his combative batting and deft bowling, Marsh was made for T20. But despite making his debut for Australia in 2011, he has played just 53 international matches in that format. The same chaotic pattern repeated in the roller-coaster 42-Test career. I did a lot of work to find perspective and detach myself from the results, Marsh winces, recalling those years when I was crap.

Falls – pilloried in the media, booed by the home crowd at the 2018 Boxing Day Test (“the hardest day of my career”), a broken arm, hitting the wall after another cheap result in 2019 – almost led to Marsh resigned. There were definitely times when I thought, ‘Do I want to play cricket?’ I called Sean and said, I don’t want to do this anymore. He’d reply, shut up buddy, you’re not done yet.

Lost in the darkness, Marsh missed out on his highlights: a big first Test century at the WACA in the 2017-18 Ashes, another soon after in Sydney with Sean at the other end, his stunning 77 from 50 balls to win the 2021 tournament. The T20 World Cup final, or ’96, which won the Durban Test in a “sandpaper” series and saw him (briefly) named Test vice-captain in the subsequent rebuilding era.

Personal Growth and Perspective

“It took me a long time to not let the game dictate who I am as a person, he says. Today I know that I don’t have to be the best cricketer in the world if I contribute to my team’s victories. I can still be a good person, a good husband, a good family man. These are the things that really matter.”

Marsh is proud that he kept trying and kept coming back. Even in exile, he pursued his dream, working with coach Scott Meuleman on his pregame drills and psychologist Matt Bergin on his breathing. Marrying Greta Mack in 2023 also helped. The best part is that Marsh became the best team member, beer buyer, advisor, and comic relief to his teammates.

“As a traveling team, you have to look out for each other, Marsh said. These 14-15 guys on the team, as well as the staff, they are my family during the 10 months of the year that we spend traveling away from home. So, I do my best to be a good team player, look out for my mates, remind them that we are here to play cricket, but also on this earth to have fun and enjoy life outside the game.”  

Test Captain’s Admiration

That is why Test captain Pat Cummins will proudly serve under Marsh at the T20 World Cup rally. Mitchie is a legend, Cummins says. As a cricketer, he has faced many setbacks, be it selection or injuries. But he’s the first guy you want on your team with a lot of fun and energy. He unites us and takes care of everyone. He makes us all walk a little taller.

Never more so than at Headingley last year, when Marsh shocked to called up for his first Test in four years. Emerging from his slump with 85-4, he scored a brutal and beautiful 102nd, the fastest by an Australian in England since Victor Trumper’s 95 in 1902.

“They finally stopped calling me Sean after that, Marsh laughs. It was a special moment and I have felt love and support from all over the world ever since. For me, as an Australian cricketer, this is exactly what I need: inspiring children to play and love the game. It’s been an incredible couple of years…hopefully it’s going to be a good month.”

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