West Indies v Australia T20Is - Men's
Absent stars on notice for T20 World Cup
Windies, Bangladesh tours give fringe players a chance to cement T20 World Cup spots with absent stars facing 'very realistic' possibility of being overlooked for the tournament, says Aaron Finch
25 June 2021, 03:40 PM AEST
Several of Australia's star short-format players have a "very realistic" chance of being overlooked for selection at the T20 World Cup after opting out of the upcoming white-ball tours of the Caribbean and Bangladesh, says national skipper Aaron Finch.
Australia will on Monday fly out to the Caribbean with an 18-man squad shorn of up to seven frontline T20I players. Finch last week said the absence of Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Marcus Stoinis and Kane Richardson was "surprising", while he also revealed it had been a "long-term plan" for all-format stars David Warner and Pat Cummins, both among Australia's highest-paid IPL players, to miss the 10 T20s and three ODIs to be played in St Lucia, Barbados and (pending confirmation) Bangladesh in July and August.
Steve Smith was ruled out of the tours due to an elbow injury, while Daniel Sams, who contracted COVID-19 while travelling to the IPL in April, also made himself unavailable.
And with a host of opportunities for Australia's players in conditions well-suited to a tailored preparation for the T20 World Cup in October-November (regardless of whether COVID-19 complications means it is played in India or the UAE), Finch insists the absentees are in genuine danger of missing out on a berth in the showpiece event as others stake their claims.
"Yeah, very realistic," Finch answered when asked what the likelihood was of such a situation transpiring. "You have to go on current form, and you pick guys who are playing well.
"Playing cricket for Australia and doing well is the ultimate, in my opinion. So for guys to be on this tour, to get the first opportunity to really put their hand up and take a spot is what it's about.
"It's tough to ignore really good international performances.
"These conditions are going to be really similar to what we face in the T20 World Cup I imagine, especially St Lucia (having been) used quite a lot recently with the South Africa series.
"And Bangladesh (is) quite similar to India or the UAE, wherever that lands (in terms of World Cup host).
"So yeah, absolutely, there's going to be opportunities for guys to put their hand up and take spots."
While still boasting experienced internationals Finch, Matthew Wade, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Mitch Marsh, Adam Zampa, Alex Carey and Ashton Agar, Australia's squad will be sprinkled with an array of KFC BBL talent largely unproven at the next level.
Pace pair Wes Agar (uncapped) and Riley Meredith (three T20Is), as well as top-order batter Josh Philippe (five T20Is) and leg-spinner Mitch Swepson (four T20Is) represent the greenest of the group, while at the other end of the scale, 38-year-old allrounder Dan Christian, who played the most recent of his 35 internationals in October 2017, looms as a key figure for an Australian side still tinkering with its structure.
"I think the great thing about Australian cricket at the moment is the guys who are performing really well in Big Bash in particular, and domestic cricket, are the ones that are getting the opportunities," Finch added.
"So while it would be ideal to have a really set 15-20 man squad from now leading into the World Cup, we've got to deal with what we've got, and it's still exciting.
"(Christian) is someone who's so dynamic, and we saw the impact he had especially towards the business end of the Big Bash last year – he came in and had a high strike-rate from ball one.
"He's explosive with the bat, he's got tricks with the ball, he's experienced, he doesn't get fazed and he's a brilliant fielder.
"Dan's a super player, an unbelievable competitor and a great person to have around the group. I'm really excited to have him back in."
Qantas Tour of the West Indies 2021
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Wes Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Dan Christian, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa. Travelling reserves: Nathan Ellils, Tanveer Sangha.
West Indies T20 squad: Kieron Pollard (c), Nicholas Pooran (vc), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Fidel Edwards, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Kevin Sinclair, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr
First T20: July 9, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 7.30pm (July 10, 9.30am AEST)
Second T20: July 10, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 7.30pm (July 11 9.30am AEST)
Third T20: July 12, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 7.30pm (July 13, 9.30am AEST)
Fourth T20: July 14, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 7.30pm (July 15, 9.30am AEST)
Fifth T20: July 16, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 7.30pm (July 17, 9.30am AEST)
First ODI: July 20, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 2.30pm D/N (July 21, 4.30am AEST)
Second ODI: July 22, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 2.30pm D/N (July 23, 4.30am AEST)
Third ODI: July 24, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 2.30pm D/N (July 25, 4.30am AEST)
* Details of five-match T20 tour of Bangladesh are yet to be announced by the Bangladesh Cricket Board. Tours are subject to agreement on bio-security arrangements and relevant government approvals.