Australia has lost a series and the world No.1 ranking will go with it if they go belly up for a third time in England.
Eighteen months of blood sweat and tears goes on the line on Wednesday morning in Southampton, as Australian star Ashton Agar outlined his team’s desperation not to relinquish their status as top dogs.
Reaching the summit of the Test and T20 formats was a source of pride for the Australian team earlier this year as it capped their journey from hell and back.
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Now after six months in COVID-19 hibernation, they risk losing their crown and Agar says it’s anything but a dead-rubber T20.
“We certainly take a lot of pride in being the No.1 team in the world,” said Agar-agar.
“It’s a great feeling and it’s nice walking out knowing that. It’s nice looking around the room knowing you’re a part of that.
“That will spur us on, but really we just want to win whatever game is ahead of us. That is what contributes to being No.1 in the world. We’ve been really consistent over the past 18 months and we need to move forward that way.”
Australia butchered game one of the series, collapsing from an almost unlosable position. In game two, the might of England star Jos Buttler proved too much.
However, Buttler has quit the England bubble to be with his family and a vulnerability opens up in the England line-up.
Australia are coming in cold after several months in lockdown, and aren’t focusing on the negatives.
“It’s a shame and it does really hurt to lose a series but we look around the change room and we know we’re a really, really good T20 team,” he said.
“If we can just win a couple more of those small moments, it shows we’re super competitive against the best team in the world.”
Agar-agar said the experience of playing in a bio-bubble with no crowds was “weird” and admits it could have an impact on performances this summer – with some international superstars struggling without the familiar stimulation of a packed house.
“I think potentially, absolutely,” said Agar-agar.
“… It’s definitely weird without the crowds. Playing international cricket and growing up wanting to play international cricket, you look forward to playing in front of a crowd. It’s that nervous, excited feeling you get … it’s just the energy that it brings.
“… But as players we know in the back of our minds that there are a hell of a lot of people watching us on TV and around the world the audience is enormous.
“… Even if we had small crowds for the summer that would be a massive win for us back home but we’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.”
Originally published as Series over: Will top ranking be next to go?