Previewing Australia's squad for the T20 World Cup

Which players will get the opportunity to bring home Australia's second T20 World Cup trophy?

Australia's 15-man squad tasked with lifting the men's T20 World Cup trophy for a second time is expected to drop next week.

Andrew McDonald's side has cycled through 27 different players in the format since the disappointing 2022 group-stage exit on home soil.

That churn belies a remarkably settled white-ball nucleus that also carried Australia to a 50-over title in India last year.

Up to 10 members of the team that won Australia's inaugural T20I title in November 2021 could feature in this year's tournament, and it could be a similar number of leftovers from the unlikely ODI triumph in Ahmedabad last year.

Expect some fresher faces in the wider squad though, several of whom have been standout KFC BBL performers in recent years, with the Aussies set to tackle a new challenge in the form of Caribbean pitches.

Top-order batters/allrounders

Australia have shown their hand by repurposing their dynamite 50-over World Cup-winning top three for the shorter white-ball format. Mitch Marsh's appointment as captain for the tournament needs to be ratified by the CA board, while he is also expected to overcome a hamstring injury that cut short his Indian Premier League. He likely takes up the No.3 spot behind Travis Head and David Warner. That trio should get first crack at taking on the new rock in the Caribbean, even despite Head being a relative greenhorn in international T20 cricket (he played just one T20I in five years before last year's South Africa tour). The left-hander's astonishing IPL assault has underlined his status as one of the game's most damaging openers. His emergence leaves Steve Smith on the outer, though the former captain's versatility (he has starred as an opener in the BBL in recent times) could still make him an asset in the 15-man squad.

Jake Fraser-McGurk's continued rise will have selectors wondering if he is at least worth bringing to the Caribbean, though his international experience has so far been limited to two ODIs. Back-to-back BBL MVP Matthew Short might still be ahead of him in the pecking order considering his encouraging initial performances in international cricket and the effectiveness of his off-breaks. A wildcard in this category is Cameron Green, but the allrounder has done little in the IPL to push his case and has not featured in Australia's T20I side since the last World Cup.

Middle-order batters/allrounders

What was once a point of weakness has become an area of stability over recent years. Smith is the only member of the 2021 T20 World Cup-winning XI that has dropped out of a first-choice spot in the engine room, with Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Tim David forming a settled group of dynamic finishers. Coach McDonald has shown a preference for playing only four specialist bowlers in his white-ball teams, meaning Maxwell and Stoinis' ability to send down important overs will again be vital to Australia's fortunes, especially with Marsh's role with the ball diminishing in recent times. Short could be a consideration in the middle given his dual abilities, though he has batted outside the top three in just two of his eight T20I innings while his bowling strengths (which include being a wicket-taking option in the Powerplay) largely overlap with Maxwell's.

Beyond that, Aaron Hardie appears to be the next cab off the rank in the pace-bowling allrounder ranks, while Smith could yet reprise a role outside the top three as a middle-order anchor.

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Matthew Wade's remarkable international career has been extended despite his own doubts it would continue beyond the last World Cup and a steady bubbling of excitement over the prospects of Josh Inglis. Both should be on the plane to the Caribbean, especially with Inglis showing his wares as a specialist batter, despite a recent suggestion from Tim Paine that a second keeper might not be required and Fraser-McGurk could be a better alternative. But Inglis has shown he might be the next best middle-order batting option outside the incumbents, and smashed a century against India last November when given a run at No.3. But Australia's faith in Wade as their gloveman has been vindicated by the numbers; in 25 innings since the start of the 2021 World Cup, he has averaged 52 with the bat and maintained a strike-rate of 151.60, mostly from No.7. He has only faced more than 25 balls in an innings in two of those knocks. His left-handedness also remains a factor given the abundance of righties above him.

Wade runs past 30-yard circle for sensational catch

Spin bowlers

This shapes as the area of most intrigue. Adam Zampa has sat out the IPL and should be in tip-top shape to once again shine on the biggest stage, while the Aussies have won T20 and ODI World Cups in Asia in recent years with Maxwell as their second spinner. Whether Maxwell (and possibly Short as well) will be enough spin coverage for the tournament is up for debate given the likelihood of slow pitches becoming more prevalent as the tournament progresses.

Ashton Agar is the most credentialled back-up option and has shown he can form a strong union with Zampa. But the Aussies won the ODI World Cup without him in the squad last year, and he has increasingly been on the outer in T20s too having played only one T20I in the past 22 months. Injury, his low T20I batting strike-rate, Zampa's form and Australia's preference for only four specialist bowlers have all been factors in his exclusion. Tanveer Sangha is an option as insurance for Zampa having had that role through last year's ODI World Cup when the incumbent leggie played through numerous ailments.

Zampa shines with three scalps including Dre-Russ

Pace bowlers

Surprise, surprise, the big three – Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc – once again look set to lead the line for Australia. It is increasingly rare for fast bowlers to excel in all three formats and the biggest challenge for the trio will be to get their skills up to the level of their counterparts who are T20 specialists. Cummins and Starc have been getting up to speed in the ongoing IPL, while Hazlewood (sitting the tournament out due to the birth of his child) has benefited from playing in that tournament extensively. At least one back-up quick will be in the squad.

Nathan Ellis, having been picked in that spot for the Aussies' most recent T20 tour in New Zealand, shapes as the frontrunner having been unfortunate to miss a spot at the last World Cup. Spencer Johnson performed well as a late call-up on that trip and has since further pushed his case in the IPL. Sean Abbott might be a little further behind that pair, while reigning men's T20I player of the year Jason Behrendorff suffered an untimely leg injury last month.

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2024 ICC Men's T20 World Cup

Australia's Group B fixtures

June 6: v Oman, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 10.30am AEST

June 9: v England, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 3am AEST

June 12: v Namibia, Sir Viv Richards Stadium, Antigua, 10.30am AEST

June 16: v Scotland, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 10.30am AEST

Super 8s fixtures TBC

27 June: Semi-final 1, Brian Lara Academy, Trinidad, 10.30am AEST

28 June: Semi-final 2, Providence Stadium, Guyana, 12.30am AEST

30 June: Final, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 12.30am AEST

For the full list of fixtures click here. All matches will be broadcast live on Amazon Prime