Gillette T20 INTL Series v Sri Lanka
Back in black: Australia reveal T20 squad
Australia's road to the T20 World Cup begins with back-to-back three-match home series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan
8 October 2019, 01:42 PM AEST
Steve Smith will play his first T20 international in more than three-and-a-half years later this month after being picked in Australia's T20 squad for back-to-back three-game series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Smith has been joined by fellow Ashes squad members David Warner, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc in Australia's 14-man squad for the twin series, which begin on October 27 in Adelaide.
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Billy Stanlake, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, David Warner, Adam Zampa
Australia axed allrounder Marcus Stoinis and overlooked big-hitting batsmen Chris Lynn – who was instead named in the Prime Minister's XI – and D'Arcy Short, while spinner Nathan Lyon was unable to force his way into the shortest format, with Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa preferred by selectors.
Towering Queenslander Billy Stanlake has returned with selectors keeping one eye firmly on next year's T20 World Cup, that will be played in Australia.
"It is almost a year to the day until Australia hosts the men's Twenty20 World Cup and we have selected this squad with that in mind," National Selector Trevor Hohns said in a statement.
"We have looked to put a squad together that we think can take us through to that tournament.
"The squad we have selected is quite role specific and we believe it gives us the flexibility to thrive in all match conditions.
Wicketkeeper Alex Carey and Cummins will share the vice-captaincy behind skipper Aaron Finch, while the series sees a return to Australia's T20 squad for Warner and Smith – who is expected to bat at No.3 behind the openers.
Warner last played a T20 international in February 2018, when he captained a side that won a series in New Zealand before he jetted off to the ill-fated South African tour. Smith last played a T20 international in Mohali in March 2016, when Australia were knocked out of that year's World T20 tournament.
"In terms of batsmen, we have selected top and middle-order specialists. The likes of Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Ashton Turner and Carey provide us excellent options through the middle-order after Finch, Warner and Smith," said Hohns.
"In terms of spinners, we feel like the all-round package Ashton Agar possesses is irresistible at the moment and Adam Zampa has proven to be a very good T20 bowler in all conditions.
"We're also confident in the potency and flexibility of our fast bowling group. Mitchell Starc gives us a left-arm option and has earned a reputation as one of the world's leading quicks at the top of the innings and at the death.
"Pat Cummins is a world-class right-arm option and has been in superb form of late. Andrew Tye is a wicket-taking proposition, Billy Stanlake has the X-factor and Kane Richardson has been an excellent short-form player for some time now."
Tye and Richardson will be looked to as death-bowling options given the omission of Stoinis, who thrived as a late-innings bowler during last summer's KFC Big Bash League for the Melbourne Stars.
The allrounder averaged just 14.5 with the bat and 34.85 with the ball during the 50-over World Cup in the winter, where he was persisted with despite battling two side injuries. He was forced to come through a fitness test on the eve of the semi-final that saw Australia knocked out of the competition by England.
Last summer's ODI Player of the Year, form deserted Stoinis at the World Cup, where he worked closely with assistant coach Ricky Ponting, who had talked up his threat in the limited-overs formats.
"I just like the overall package with him," Ponting said of Stoinis early in the tournament.
"He's probably our best outfielder, you saw what he can do with the ball at the death, he gives us another string to our bow as far as his death bowling is concerned.
"I'm working with him a lot on a daily basis and I think he can have a big impact on this World Cup."
Gillette T20 Internationals v Sri Lanka
First T20: October 27, Adelaide Oval, 2pm (Fox & Kayo)
Second T20: October 30, Gabba, 6.10pm (Fox & Kayo)
Third T20: November 1, MCG, 7.10pm (Fox & Kayo)
Gillette T20 Internationals v Pakistan
First T20: November 3, SCG, 2.30pm (Fox & Kayo)
Second T20: November 5, Manuka Oval, 7.10pm (Fox & Kayo)