Australia have their "backs against the wall" in the World Twenty20 – but insist they like it that way. After their seven-wicket defeat against West Indies at The Oval on Saturday, Australia must beat Sri Lanka in tonight's Group C match at Trent Bridge. Otherwise, their Ashes summer will begin with an ignominious early exit from what has quickly become established as a prestigious global tournament.
Australia, however, are renowned for their ability to overcome setbacks at the start of high-profile campaigns. It was in this country in 1999 that they left themselves needing to win all their remaining matches first to survive and then triumph – as they did – in the World Cup.
In 2003, they found themselves without master leg-spinner Shane Warne when he failed a drugs test on the eve of their first match at the World Cup in South Africa. They won there too in the end, and under Ricky Ponting have since added a third successive World Cup in 2007 – beating Sri Lanka, ironically, in the final in Bridgetown.
This time, mercurial all-rounder Andrew Symonds has had to leave Australia's squad because of a contravention of rules on alcohol consumption – and without him, Australia had no answer with either bat or ball to Chris Gayle's big hitting.
David Hussey's middle-order runs were not enough to tax Gayle and Co on Saturday. But he has no doubt Australia have all the talent they need to rescue their campaign tomorrow. "It was highly disappointing, but we have got to move on and play Sri Lanka and win – and win well, we hope, to stay in the tournament," he said. "We have got our backs against the wall – and Australians love being in that situation. Against Sri Lanka you will see a more disciplined Australia team. We will come out all guns blazing."
Hussey acknowledges Symonds' absence, and the circumstances of his departure, as a problematic start – but reports Australia have put that debacle behind them. "We had a team meeting after that all happened and we put a line in the sand," he said. "Ricky said 'no more discussion, it's done, prepare well and make sure you go out there to win the tournament'."