The captains have met and the stage is set for Australia 2022. The 16 skippers made history, coming together in Melbourne for the first time at an ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
The Captains’ Day marks the start of the eighth edition of the event that promises to keep more than a billion cricket fans across the globe on the edge of their seats from start to finish.
The big one gets underway tomorrow at 15h00 local time when Sri Lanka face Namibia at Geelong’s Kardinia Park Stadium in Group A of the First Round. It is followed by the United Arab Emirates against the Netherlands at 19h00 local time.
This marks the first of 45 matches over 28 days with the champions to be crowned at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 13 November.
Sri Lanka know exactly how it feels to stand on top of the T20 world having taken the title in 2014. They will have to perform well from the start, battling for a Super 12 place from opening day, buoyant after a landmark win in the Asia Cup.
Sri Lanka captain, Dasun Shanaka said: “After a very good Asia Cup, we are very confident. The environment is really good. We are well focused on our batting. As it is the early summer, the conditions will be somewhat different, so we are really focusing on that.
“Apart from that, I think the bowlers, they are really shaping up, so Chameera is back with us and Lahiru Kumara is back with us, so they are plus points coming from the Asia Cup.
“Yeah, it depends on the day. T20 cricket we never know who will be good, when. I think the better teams come out of the day with a win.”
Tomorrow’s opponents, Namibia, made a big impression on their tournament debut in the UAE and Oman in 2021, surging through to the Super 12 stage.
The challenge for Gerhard Erasmus’s side will be to go again without the element of surprise they enjoyed last year, and they will again lean heavily on talisman David Wiese and paceman Ruben Trumpelmann.
Namibia captain, Gerhard Erasmus said: “I guess this year is a bit different to last year. We could sort of ride on that underdog factor and go with it and there’s a bit more expectation perhaps this year to go one better.
“Our preparations have been really nice getting to Wangaratta in the countryside of Australia quite early and getting accustomed to things around here. So I guess we’ll try and stall the underdog tag for a little bit longer, but yeah, when the real stuff starts, you need to bring the high-level skill that the guys play at the World Cup if we can do that.”
Australia will dearly hope they are the ones to lift the trophy on home soil with a stated aim to become the first team to retain the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
Aaron Finch’s side begin their Super 12 campaign with a repeat of last year’s final.
Their eye-catching Trans-Tasman clash with New Zealand at Sydney Cricket Ground on 22 October is set to get the Super 12 off to a flying start.
Their squad boasts a surfeit of experience with middle-order dasher Tim David adding a sprinkle of fresh energy for the title defence.
Australia captain, Aaron Finch said: “Obviously you go into a World Cup knowing that the makeup of your 15 men is really important. It’s not just 11 players that win you a World Cup, it’s the contribution of all around. I feel as though we’ve got a really well balanced side. We’ve got some match winners all throughout the batting lineup and with the ball, as well.
“I think it’s just about trying to peak at the right time. There’s no point getting caught up with what we should be doing or shouldn’t be doing in the lead-up to the tournament. I think it’s important that everyone within the squad knows their roles and what role they’re most likely to play throughout the tournament, and we can tweak things here and there, but there’s a really good feeling in the squad.”
New Zealand have a formidable record at ICC major events. They have reached the last two ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup finals, finished third or better at the last two ICC Men’s T20 World Cups and won the inaugural World Test Championship.
New Zealand captain, Kane Williamson said: “We had a pretty memorable World Cup a few months back and played these guys in the final. It was a great game of cricket, and these sorts of tournaments are always pretty special to be a part of.
“Everybody has different tags and rankings that go up and down throughout the year, and I suppose they end up with different names. But you come here in tournament sport on any day, anything can happen, especially looking across all these teams with match winners throughout.”