12 months ago Aaron Finch led held aloft the T20 World Cup trophy in Dubai after defeating New Zealand pretty comfortably in the final. This time around they began with an 89-run loss to the exact same opposition, except this time the Aussies had the home-ground advantage.
It's fair to say that no one really expected Australia to win the tournament 12 months ago with them ranked sixth in the world in T20 cricket. But winning tosses allowing them to chase gave Australia a massive advantage on pitches that massively advantaged the chasing side.
This time around with all the advantages of playing in Australia, Aaron Finch's men looked far from convincing. No one looked in form and as Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell both suggested, the team looked tired.
While they did only lose one match that being against New Zealand even though their wins were far from convincing. A Marcus Stoinis epic provided a win against Sri Lanka before Australia almost let winning positions slide against Ireland and Afghanistan.
While some will suggest the reason for the slip back in the format is the loss of Justin Langer it's hard to argue that is the case when Langer was almost non-existent during the last World Cup, as Josh Hazlewood described.
“He’s probably taken a big back seat and let a lot of other staff play their roles, especially the players as well, to take a bit more ownership of what they’re doing in and around training and games. I’d say that’s probably the main thing that’s happened over the past few weeks.”
So what has Australia done wrong to get into a position where they can't even make the knockout games at a home tournament? Some of the issues are quite clear.
The Big Bash Problem
Cricket Australia would have to admit that the BBL is not built for performance but instead is a great marketing tool and a money maker with cricket being on TV every night at the height of the summer.
It's all good and well to make money out of the product but it is coming at the expense of Australian performance. Cricket Australia needs its best players playing against the best to know who really are the best T20 players in the world.
Things look to be on the improve for the competition though with some of the silly gimmick rules thrown out the window. While the introduction of a draft will allow some of the best players in the world to come to Australia for the summer.
The elephant in the room when it comes to the BBL though is private investment. If Cricket Australia wants to keep its best players in the country for the summer then salaries need to be raised. Chris Lynn is set to head to the UAE before the BBL finals and the same was going to be the case for David Warner before CA stepped in with a mammoth contract.
Private investment will allow salaries to increase while turning the BBL into a global product and brand much as the IPL has become with academies all around the world. The T20 World Cup has shown that cricket in Australia is the best to watch and Cricket Australia should be looking to pounce on that opportunity.
Too many games or not enough?
Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell both mentioned too much cricket being one of the reasons that the Australians were tired going into the World Cup. And while that is true for some it's not correct in all aspects.
There is no doubt Maxwell and Finch play a lot of cricket all around the world whether it be in England, India or back for the home summer. The Australian fast bowlers also play plenty of cricket but are they in the right formats?
Mitchell Starc for instance hasn't played BBL cricket in years and won't do so this season either. He also doesn't go to the IPL. So when it comes to too much cricket it certainly isn't too much T20 cricket.
Starc is only playing T20 cricket during World Cup cycles for his country. It means he's not keeping up with the hustle and bustle of playing multiple teams in short periods of time. As shown by his dropping in the last fixture it appears the format has passed him by.
Pat Cummins also doesn't play BBL and spent most of the IPL this time around sitting on the bench and running drinks. In fact, it's been Josh Hazlewood and Adam Zampa who have been the best Australians with the ball over the last two years and they play the most T20 cricket.
There is certainly a balance to hit but it is certainly true that flying the team from Brisbane to Perth back to Sydney all within a week just to play one T20 against England was not great preparation or scheduling by Cricket Australia.
Where to from here?
It's time for a complete cleanout and complete change in attitude by both the Australian team, the cricket commentariat and the Australian cricketing public. The fact that only 18,000 people showed up for a must-win match at a T20 World Cup against Afghanistan probably shows that T20 cricket hasn't grabbed the public's imagination.
It was reported by The Age that Australia will be looking to rest the big fast bowlers from white ball cricket in an attempt to keep them all going in Test cricket for the next decade.
That means a new fast bowling brigade will be required. Nathan Ellis will likely play a big part in that and arguably should have played a big part in this year's tournament.
The batting lineup will also likely see changes with Finch and Warner close to the end, Steve Smith clearly isn't suited to the format and Mitch Marsh being inconsistent at best at number three. A revitalized Big Bash as well as a growing IPL and international T20 circuit should identify new players ahead of 2024.
A big part of taking T20 cricket more seriously though is the commentary we hear during matches. Currently, there are a lot of jokes, a lot of pointing out how good something is without really diving into what makes an innings good.
We have seen in US sports that the public can be taken along when it comes to advanced metrics. Cricket is moving more towards being numbers based, especially in T20 and while some broadcasters try to inform the audience, Australia doesn't do that, especially in the Big Bash.
The early days of the BBL made people fall in love with the game. There is plenty for CA to learn from the World Cup whether it be having the best players play or that a one-month tournament can be enough. There is no doubt though that things need to change.
Before you move on, why not give our Facebook page a like here. Or give our Twitter account a follow to keep up with our work here.