Covid robbed Australian cricket of having Andrew Symonds link up with Justin Langer’s men over the past 18 months.
On the eve of the T20 World Cup, it can be revealed Symonds – a modern day great, particularly in the short forms of the game – was asked by Langer to join his coaching team as a mentor.
Had he done so, he would have joined a number of Langer’s former teammates, who have made a positive impact.
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Ponting is widely regarded as one of cricket’s shrewdest and sharpest minds and helped Langer in the early stages after taking over from Darren Lehmann.
While Steve Waugh joined Langer during the 2019 Ashes, Australia’s first series victory on foreign soil since the former captain lifted the urn in 2001.
But the Covid pandemic meant Symonds, who would jump at the opportunity to join the coaching group if feasible, was unable to join them.
“Justin Langer is the man who contacted me,” Symonds told foxsports.com.au.
“Because he’s had Ponting, (Hussey, and Steve Waugh went on the Ashes, they were just trying to get players who had played different types of cricket and had extended periods of success in and around the group and a fresh face.
“I was really excited to go on that and honoured.
“I said, ‘I can’t believe you’ve asked me to go.’
“I certainly wasn’t expecting that looking at the players who had done it.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Symonds, a central figure in Australia’s 2003 and 2007 World Cup victories, said the only way Australia could win the T20 World Cup in the UAE was if the side came together.
“They’ve got to play together,” the former all-rounder said.
“If they start winning as a unit, you end up with an extra player sometimes if you can really create that X-factor.
“We saw back in the day opposition teams started guessing and panicking.
“I think that’s one of the ways that Australia can earn that back.
“They need to trust each other, work together and then inch by inch slowly start to create that again, win the close games, the 50/50 moments by being a unit, working together and being smarter.”
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One of the first things Symonds would have addressed in the current short-form teams was how the middle-order particularly paced their innings.
For years the ODI and T20 side particularly have been prone to collapses and Symonds believes a big work-on for the side is their manipulation of fields and working on rotating the strike rather than always looking for the boundary.
“That was going to be one of the things I was going to try to address with them,” Symonds said.
“People say the game’s changed, but you still need to score your ones and twos.
“If someone bowls you a good ball, the best players in short-form cricket can get a good ball down to third man or they can drop it at their feet and get off strike instead of block, hard hands, block, block, block and then the pressure does build up and we do have to go for that smack.”
Symonds pointed to the likes of former Indian captain MS Dhoni, who often started slowly before exploding.
“He was one of the best, but he spent the time,” Symonds said.
“Are we spending enough time getting ourselves in?
“It seems to me as if we go a little bit too hard, too quickly. But they probably call me a dinosaur.
“If they want to compete and win these things, it’s a major part they need to fix up.”
Australia plays South Africa on Saturday night in their opening T20 World Cup match.