As the Trans-Tasman rivalry resumes in the shortest format of the international game, here are five fringe players looking to seal a spot for their respective sides ahead of the T20 World Cup later this year.
Australia and New Zealand have played each other in just nine T20I matches to date, with just two series comprising of more than a single game. As they prepare for a five-match series in preparation for the T20 World Cup, all eyes will be on some of the fringe players looking to make an impression and earn a spot for the big event.
T20s: 86, Runs: 2850, Average: 43.18, Strike-Rate: 127.86, 100s: 2, 50s: 21
The South Africa-born batsman has had a dream run in New Zealand domestic cricket, racking up runs in plenty in limited-overs cricket. Conway was the top run-scorer in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 Super Smash tournaments and comes into this series on the back of scores of 50, 69*, 91* and 93* in the 2021 edition of the tournament – 455 runs in the season at an average of 65 and a strike-rate in the mid-130s. In his four T20I innings for the Blackcaps, Conway already has two fifties. With the New Zealand top-order packed with talent, it’ll be difficult for Conway to force his way into the reckoning but sure does have the talent to do so.
T20s: 62, Wickets: 78, Average: 22.85, Economy: 7.87, Best: 4-19, Four-plus wicket hauls: 3
An INR 14 crore IPL contract after a Big Bash League season where he topped the wickets chart with 29 wickets in 17 games has put Jhye Richardson in the spotlight again. A bowler capable of swinging the ball upfront and bowling in the latter half of the innings, Richardson is a perfect fit for T20 cricket. But with Australia’s fast bowling cupboard overflowing with options – they have as many as eight fast bowling options in the T20I squad named for the series – Richardson will have to prove he is a level above the lot to nail down a spot in the side.
T20s: 38, Wickets: 54, Average: 20.59, Economy: 7.98, Best: 6-7, Four-plus wicket hauls: 2
His Test exploits are well documented, but Kyle Jamieson’s big day in the IPL 2021 auction raised a few eyebrows for he has primarily performed in conditions favourable to him. That won’t change this series, but with the T20 World Cup in India, Jamieson will also be keen to show he is more than just a tall bowler hitting a fuller length to exploit the pitch and conditions.
T20s: 108, Runs: 1480, Average: 21.14, Strike-Rate: 135.90, 100s: 0, 50s: 7
In the last five overs of the Big Bash League 2020/21, Turner struck runs at a strike-rate of 200 with a boundary, on average, every 3.6 balls. While his overall T20 numbers do not stand out, at the back end of the innings Turner is a valuable asset and fulfils a niche role in a T20 side that can be hard to pull off. Australia, who have struggled to nail down lower middle-order finishers, will be encouraged with the Perth Scorchers skipper’s numbers at the death. But, can he replicate that in international cricket? The onus will be on him to show that he can do as much damage at the highest level.
T20s: 53, Runs: 1384, Average: 31.45, Strike-Rate: 139.23, 100s: 0, 50s: 10
508 runs at an average of 31.75 and a strike-rate just below 150 made BBL 2020/21 a fruitful season for Sydney Sixers’ Josh Philippe. Australia’s top-order is packed with options in T20 cricket, but Philippe adds a touch more dynamism and could be in contention to even bat at No.3 if he can show he belongs at the highest level. In a series where he will compete with the likes of D’Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade, Philippe’s primary goal would be to show he offers more than Wade behind and in front of the stumps.