Australia’s Big Bash stars will get their chance to shine on the International stage and audition for a T20 World Cup berth as Cricket Australia was dealt a blow to its preparations for the tournament with the announcement of today’s squad with nine first-choice players who won’t be traveling to the West Indies and Bangladesh.
The Australian men’s cricket team is set to compete in two white ball tours to the West Indies and Bangladesh before October’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in India; however, recent availability and omissions of players change the team’s makeup.
After Cricket Australia finalised a 29-man squad last week, the touring squad now sits at 20 players amid the exclusions of key personnel, each due to varying factors.
Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, David Warner, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Jhye Richardson, and Kane Richardson have all opted to sit out the upcoming fixtures for different reasons. All of whom were playing in the IPL and were caught up in the abrupt suspension of the tournament with India’s COVID crisis.
Cricket Australia Head Selector Trevor Hohns issued a statement discussing the players’ individual decisions to not tour the West Indies and Bangladesh.
“We are naturally disappointed not to have all players available for the Australian team at this time however the NSP (National Selection Panel) respects the decisions of those who have opted out of this tour”, Hohns said.
Smith withdrew due to an elbow injury while the other six “requested not to be considered for the tour for various reasons”.
“Steve Smith was unavailable for selection due to an elbow injury and will now be able to use this time to fully recover ahead of the World Cup and home Ashes series,” Hohns confirmed.
“Steve was disappointed to miss the tour with the decision made on medical grounds.”
D’Arcy Short, who’s currently playing in the T20 Vitality Blast for Hampshire in England, and boom youngster Cameron Green round out the full list of omissions from the preliminary squad.
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In less than ideal timing, four months out from the T20 World Cup, it presents an opportunity for the next rung of players and those who haven’t been in the national setup long a chance to make a case for themselves.
With the T20 World Cup looming, current members of the touring party will sense a chance to push for selection ahead of the showcase event based on the fact many of Australia’s stars won’t have had adequate preparation.
“International tours in the time of COVID-19 undoubtedly present many additional challenges for athletes,” Hohns said.
“They also present opportunities for others and, in this case, the chance to push for selection in the Australian men’s T20 World Cup squad later this year and beyond.
“This is a great chance for these players to make a case for the World Cup and all are considered very real prospects of making that tournament by performing well across these tours.”
Among the inclusions to Australia’s white-ball squad is evergreen allrounder Dan Christian and batsman Ben McDermott, each returning to Australia after county cricket stints in the UK.
Christian, a T20 globetrotter who has earned a reputation of winning titles wherever he goes, returns to the national setup having not played at a national level since October 2017. The all-rounder has played 16 T20 International matches for Australia since his 2010 debut with his bowling being a standout holding a 28.81 average.
The rest of the touring squad has eyes firmly on the future of Australian Cricket.
14 players have played less than 20 International T20s as Cricket Australia looks to the future. Captain Aaron Finch is the most capped Australian T20 player in the squad with 71 appearances, 30 matches more than spinner Adam Zampa who comes in as the second-most capped member.
Three members of the squad’s last games were in 2019 – McDermott, Jason Behrendorff, and Ashton Turner. Each will be using their previous international experience to audition for a World Cup spot
Uncapped Adelaide Strikers bowler Wes Agar has been included in his first International squad, hoping to get a chance to debut in the green and gold while bowler Riley Meredith will look to add to his three appearances from March 2021 in New Zealand.
24-year-old Sydney Sixers batsman Josh Philippe is a star of the future who will benefit from more potential game time, adding to his five matches whereas spinner Mitch Swepson is another candidate to get a good crack, bowling in tandem with Adam Zampa.
Also in the touring squad as training reserves are newcomers Nathan Ellis and Tanveer Sangha. This decision to have them along for the ride will lead them to learn what life is like in this environment, adding to the focus on the next generation of cricketers.
Sangha, who was part of the touring squad to New Zealand in March, and Ellis, both still young in their burgeoning careers, will able to grow accustomed to life in a touring party, looking to learn plenty from coaches and players alike. Neither Ellis nor Sangha have made their debuts however both bowlers caught the eye of selectors based on their Big Bash League form last season.
In 14 BBL games last season, Ellis took 20 wickets at an average of 22.30 with an economy rate of 8.31. He contributed well with the bat when needed, hitting 61 runs from 10 innings at a strike rate of 132.61. Sangha appeared in 15 BBL games last season, taking 21 wickets at an average of 18.28 with an economy rate of 8.08.
The tour of the West Indies begins with the first of five T20s from July 10 AST with three One Day Internationals from July 20 AST. A five-match tour of Bangladesh is still yet to be confirmed.
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Wes Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Dan Christian, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa. Traveling reserves: Nathan Ellis, Tanveer Sangha.