Skipper Aaron Finch says Australia’s one-day side is searching for more productivity against spin through the middle overs after selecting a revamped squad for the upcoming Gillette ODI Series against India.
KFC BBL stars Chris Lynn and D’Arcy Short were high-profile omissions for the three-match series, which starts at the SCG on Saturday, and Short received feedback to work on his approach against the spinners.
The Aussies lost their most recent ODI series 1-2 to South Africa on home turf, with Lynn contributing 59 runs at 19.66 and Short making a duck in his sole appearance in the third game of the series.
Australia's selection panel chairman Trevor Hohns pointed to the pair’s lack of recent runs when the squad was announced, with Test batsmen Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb earning call-ups in their place.
With the World Cup in England less than six months away, Australia are looking for more from their batsmen when opposition spinners feature prominently through the middle of the innings.
The world’s sixth-ranked ODI team is set to undergo a trial against slow bowling when they contest a five-match series in India, starting in February.
Australia are then set to face Pakistan in the UAE in March as both teams look to fine-tune their preparations for the showpiece 50-over tournament.
"Teams are bowling 20-25 overs of spin at us at the moment in one-day cricket – that’s the recent trend,” Finch said.
“It’s probably just a different make-up of the side to, I suppose, help navigate through them middle overs.
“It’s definitely not the end by any stretch for ‘Lynny’ and Darc. Seeing the form D’Arcy’s been in, I think he’s been hitting the ball as clean as I’ve ever seen him.
“Last year he banged them as well (and was the leading run-scorer in the BBL), but he looks like a different player again.
“His turn will come, no doubt.”
Speaking on Sunday, Lynn was pragmatic about his exclusion, conceding on Macquarie Radio he hadn’t “put the runs on the board”.
Khawaja’s last ODI was against Pakistan in January 2017 but hasn't been in the national team's thinking since, while Handscomb’s last game was against India in Nagpur in October 2017.
Australia had looked to mirror the method of No.1-ranked England, which has tasted success by loading their batting line-up with power hitters, but Finch said the changes represented a departure from that thinking.
“I think you’ve got to be true to your own game plan and the debate then is do you pick a game plan and pick a side for that, or do you pick a side and then pick a game plan,” Finch said.
“We’ve sat down as a group and talked (about) a bit longer-term planning – World Cup and working back from there, and starting to get some pieces in place and see where that leads.
“It’s going to be a really difficult time – three ODIs against India, five in India against them and five in Pakistan.
“They’re conditions that traditionally we haven’t played our best in. I’m really determined for our side to overcome that.
“To be a really good side and win a World Cup in English conditions that are going to be wearing and probably turn a bit towards the end of the tournament, I think these are the tours you’ve really got to look forward to and really look to take the game on and make sure that when you walk away from that, you feel as though you are 100 per cent prepared for any challenges and any conditions in world cricket.
“We had guys with high strike rates, and that was on the back of the JLT (one-day domestic) Cup, where they were still the highest run-scorers (and) best players in that competition.”
Travis Head, Ben McDermott and Ashton Agar were also left out for the India series, with pace trio Mitch Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins ordered to rest.
Veteran bowlers Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon have also secured recalls for the series against second-ranked India.
Australia ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Peter Siddle, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa
India ODI squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Shami
Gillette ODI Series v India
First ODI: January 12, SCG (D/N)
Second ODI: January 15, Adelaide Oval (D/N)
Third ODI: January 18, MCG (D/N)