In-form batsman Peter Handscomb and star quick Josh Hazlewood have both been left out of Australia’s World Cup squad, while the returns of Steve Smith and David Warner to the national side have been confirmed.
Selectors named their 15-man Cup squad this morning and the absence of Handscomb and Hazlewood underlines both the reversal of Australia’s recent one-day form and the depth of talent the panel had to choose from.
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
Handscomb has done little wrong with the bat since winning a recall to the one-day side in January, but the returns of Smith and Warner meant the race for batting spots was always going to be tight.
Handscomb has averaged 43 in 13 games this year, including a superb maiden one-day hundred in India, and scored at a strike rate of 98 in that time, but it hasn’t been enough to hold on to his spot.
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The Victorian’s ability to keep wickets even had some pundits predicting he would take the gloves ahead of incumbent Alex Carey, but the South Australian has held his spot and is the sole gloveman in the squad.
Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh have been rewarded for their good recent form with selection, while skipper Aaron Finch will lead a batting line-up that also includes allrounders Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell.
On the sidelines since January due to injury, Hazlewood had been confident of being fully fit in time for Australia’s Cup opener against Afghanistan on June 1 in Bristol. But with an Ashes series to immediately follow the World Cup, selectors have instead opted for Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jason Behrendorff as their five fast-bowling options.
Starc and Richardson have both been selected subject to fitness, however the pair are on track to be right to go for the start of the tournament.
As expected, spinners Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon have both been picked.
The batting squeeze also means there’s no place for the likes of Ashton Turner, Matthew Wade and D’Arcy Short, while paceman Kane Richardson also misses out.
Having missed selection for the tournament, the likes of Handscomb and Hazlewood have instead been picked for the Australia A tour of the UK, which will run concurrently with the World Cup. The A tour will consist of both one-day and four-day games and have the dual benefit of providing Australia’s Test players with match practice ahead of the Ashes, as well as ensuring the Aussies have replacements ready to go should injury strike during the World Cup.
“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,” selector Trevor Hohns said in a statement.
“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.
“(Smith and Warner are) both … world class players and it has been pleasing to see them produce some good form in the IPL.”
While Australia’s Cup squad has been confirmed, mystery remains about the make-up of their best XI. Finch and Khawaja have formed a dominant opening partnership during Australia’s recent unbeaten run, meaning Warner’s return could well disrupt what has become a winning formula for the five-time world champs.
With Carey expected to bat at No.7, as he has done in Australia’s past two series, one of the squad’s remaining seven batting options – Finch, Khawaja, Warner, Marsh, Smith, Maxwell and Stoinis – will miss out on a spot in the top six.
Zampa and Lyon formed a two-man spin attack on the recent tours of India and the UAE, but Australia may opt for just one spin option in their side during the UK tournament.
Should Australia opt for a traditional attack of three quicks and one spinner, two of the five fast bowlers picked will have to miss out.
Cummins is a near certainty to play, while Richardson has also impressed the year and is a frontrunner for selection, provided he’s recovered fully from a recent shoulder injury.
Player of the 2015 World Cup Starc is also on the comeback trail from injury and the fact Hazlewood has been left out of the squad altogether indicates reputation alone is not a guarantee of selection.
Australia’s squad will hold a training camp in Brisbane in early May, which will include three warm-up matches against a New Zealand side that will be without most of their biggest players due to the Indian Premier League.
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
Australia’s World Cup fixtures
- May 25: (warm-up) England v Australia, Southampton
- May 27: (warm-up) Australia v Sri Lanka, Southampton
- June 1: Afghanistan v Australia, Bristol (D/N)
- June 6: Australia v West Indies, Trent Bridge
- June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
- June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
- June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
- June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
- June 25: England v Australia, Lord’s
- June 29: New Zealand v Australia, Lord’s (D/N)
- July 6: Australia v South Africa, Old Trafford (D/N)
- July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
- July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
- July 14: Final, Lord’s
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE