Andrew McDonald is appointed as the new head coach of Australia men and this came in as a surprise despite the announcement coming later than the expected time. His four-year contract commences with a brutal 18 months of cricket across all three formats. However, there are some challenges that he should face. Here are five key challenges for Andrew McDonald to overcome.
Andrew McDonald needs to keep the Test fury on the road
Australia swept the Ashes 4-0 under Justin Langer, but their inconsistent Test form prior to that rendered Langer exposed to internal and external criticism, which ultimately led to his dismissal. With a 1-0 win in Pakistan, Australia has made a strong start under Andrew McDonald. It was Australia’s first Test series triumph in Asia since 2011, and their first series win away from home since 2016. McDonald wants Pat Cummins’ current Test team to be known as Pat Cummins’ team, which he will simply back. However, the approach he helped put in place worked in Pakistan, and Australia now faces the task of reproducing it in Sri Lanka in July and India in August.
Andrew McDonald must defend the T20 title as new head coach
The only thing more difficult than winning a T20 World Cup is defending it, and Australia has the unique task of doing so just a year after winning it in the UAE. The benefit is that it arrives in home-like circumstances. The task will be for Australia to improve once more. There are worries about skipper Aaron Finch’s form, but Andrew McDonald is certain that he is the right guy to lead Australia to the World Cup.
The emergence of Josh Inglis in the middle order, combined with the form of Nathan Ellis and Sean Abbott in Pakistan, as well as the possibility of using Tim David as a lower-order batsman, provides both options and headaches in terms of determining the best team structure and strategy for Australia to win the World Cup in Australia. Preparation may also be a difficulty for Andrew McDonald, as their strongest team may not have played together much before the event. Last year, though, this was not an issue.
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Developing a 50-over strategy should be a challenge for Andrew McDonald
ODI cricket received the least attention under Langer’s tenure. In the build-up to the 2019 ODI World Cup, Australia struggled but found a way to be highly competitive in the tournament, only to be blown away by a considerably superior England side in the semi-final. It became an afterthought after that. The ODI team has performed admirably during the pandemic, but it has mostly relied on second-string players as Australia’s stars have been rested for important Test and T20I matches.
Australia, on the other hand, has only 18 months to prepare for the ODI World Cup in India. In India, they did have an incredible ODI series triumph in 2019 thanks to a stunning chase in Mohali. However, they have lost four of their past five ODI series there and were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the 2011 World Cup. In 2019, Australia’s cricket was out of step with the times. Andrew McDonald and Australia will need a new plan for the 2023 World Cup.
A team in the midst of a transformation
There could be a large turnover of players in all three formats after the end of the 2023 World Cup, or possibly before that. After the 2023 World Cup, Finch and Warner are unlikely to return. By the end of the 2023 Ashes, Nathan Lyon and Usman Khawaja will be 35 and 36 years old, respectively. Matthew Wade’s international career could expire by the end of the 2022 T20 World Cup, while a slew of other players will be in their mid-30s.
In order to keep delivering results entering into the second half of his four-year deal, Andrew McDonald and the selectors will need to carefully manage all of the exits while quickly bringing younger players up to the international level.
Organizing the coaching schedule and workload
During Langer’s four-year tenure, he did take a break for three series, one of which, the 2021 T20I tour of New Zealand, was only possible because the concurrent Test tour to South Africa was canceled. Over the next 18 months, Australia will have a demanding schedule, and Andrew McDonald will be unable to coach every match.
He’s already worked out a plan with CA to rest for specific white-ball matches over that time, and he wants to promote assistants and consultants to boost the depth of Australian coaching throughout that time. The concept is sound, but putting it into action will be difficult.