Shane Warne has questioned the wisdom of some of Australia’s selections – which, he says, contributed to their early elimination from the World Twenty20.
Defeats by New Zealand and India led to them being knocked out in the group stage for the second competition in a row.
Although Warne, cricket’s second-highest Test wicket-taker with 708, admits Australia were not good enough, he thinks they created a major problem by ditching the long-standing David Warner-Aaron Finch partnership at the top of the batting order.
Shane Watson and Usman Khawaja were preferred to open as Warner floated in the middle order while Finch, one of only two Australia batsman to score a T20 international hundred, played only the final two matches.
Warne acknowledges Khawaja, who scored two centuries in four matches in the Big Bash League, should have been a certain starter but not as opener.
He said: “First of all, our selection was wrong. I don’t think we got that right, we messed around with it too much rather than sticking with what’s been a proven formula and we probably didn’t play well enough, which is the brutal truth.
“I know Khawaja was in unbelievable form and had to play but I would have batted him at No3. I don’t think they should have broken up Finch and Warner and I think it upset the balance of the team. Those two guys had been batting together for a long time, they have done well in Twenty20, they’ve done well in one-day cricket, and suddenly they got spilt up.
"And I just would never, ever have left Aaron Finch out. Even if he missed out in a few games, I think that Finch-Warner partnership is an intimidatory factor before a ball is bowled and people would have worried about Finch and Warner. It’s not to say they didn’t worry about Khawaja, but I just think the other two are more destructive.”
Warne also criticised the decision to leave the seamer John Hastings out of the must-win game against India in favour of Josh Hazlewood. He added: “Hazlewood is a beautiful Test bowler, and it’s not that he can’t bowl in these forms of the game, but I just think Hastings is a better option in a Twenty20 game because of his yorkers – we saw him in the Big Bash bowl his yorkers, he’s just about the best we have. We were one-dimensional by not playing Hastings all the time. I just think because we had so much talent in our team and so much skill, they [the selectors] thought: ‘It doesn’t matter what the combinations are we’re still going to do OK.’ But it wasn’t to be.”