Smith and Warner will make their Australia comeback at the 2019 World Cup. © Getty
Steve Smith and David Warner are set for their international comeback after Australia, expectedly, named the duo in their 15-man World Cup squad. However, in-form batsman Peter Handscomb misses out, along with pacer Josh Hazlewood who has also been overlooked.
With the impending returns of Smith and Warner, the race for the batting slots was always tight and Handscomb, despite a successful international comeback and his wicketkeeping abilities, wasn’t able to hold on to his spot. Handscomb made his ODI comeback in the home series against India and then made it for the reverse fixtures, and also the tour of UAE. He cracked his maiden ODI hundred in Mohali, while also scoring three more half-centuries in the 13-game period.
While Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh have been awarded for their recent run of form, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis will be the all-rounders in the line-up lead by Aaron Finch. The space crunch in the batting department also meant there was no place for Ashton Turner or D’Arcy Short either, while Alex Carey will be the sole wicketkeeper on tour.
Meanwhile, Hazlewood, though injured since January, was confident of recovering in time but with the Ashes in mind, that follows soon after the World Cup, Australia have decided to rest the star pacer. He’s however been included as the vice-captain of the Australia A team that will play five one-day matches against County sides in England, starting June 20.
“Steve Smith and David Warner come back into the squad. Both are world class players and it has been pleasing to see them produce some good form in the IPL,” Chairman of Selectors, Trevor Hohns, said.
“Given the depth of talent and competition for spots there were a number of tough calls we had to make to settle on our squad of 15. Unfortunately, from the recent squad which toured India and the UAE, Peter Handscomb, Ashton Turner and Kane Richardson have made way for the above inclusions, but all three have been included in the Australia A squad for the tour of England.
“Josh Hazlewood has also been named in the Australia A squad. Having not played at the highest level for some time, we feel this will provide him with the best preparation to get some quality cricket under his belt. Our focus is to have Josh back bowling at his best for the commencement of a big Ashes Tour,” Hohns added.
Australia’s five-pronged pace attack will consist of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jason Behrendorff, while Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa have both been included as the two spin options.
Starc and Richardson, though currently injured, are expected to be fit in time for Australia’s first World Cup game on June 1 in Bristol, against Afghanistan.
“Mitchell Starc and Jhye Richardson have both been named subject to fitness. The advice from the CA medical team is they are progressing well and barring any setbacks will be available for selection ahead of our opening match against Afghanistan on June 1.”
The defending champions will take on hosts England and Sri Lanka in the two official warm-ups, on May 25 and 27 respectively.
The 15-member side will begin their training camp at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane on May 2. The schedule includes three practice matches between Australia XI and New Zealand XI at Allan Border Field.
Australia’s World Cup squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa