West Indies v Australia T20Is - Men's
Smith's elbow woes return ahead of World Cup, Ashes
Steve Smith's latest elbow issue a concern for Australia, while more details have emerged on Marnus Labuschagne's absence from the touring party
16 June 2021, 05:06 PM AEST
An elbow issue for Steve Smith has once again become a key talking point in Australian cricket as the ICC T20 World Cup and the Ashes begin to reveal themselves on the horizon.
Smith was today ruled out of Australia's upcoming white-ball tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh owing to a tennis elbow type injury in the joint on his left arm - the same problem that sidelined him from domestic cricket for a month through February-March. It is however a separate issue from that which led to surgery on his right elbow in January 2019, with the superstar batsman expected to make a full recovery with an extended period of rest.
"I can't tell you how long or how serious (the injury is) but it's something that he's had before, and it definitely flared up again whilst playing in the IPL," said national selection panel chair Trevor Hohns.
"How long it'll take to get it completely right, I can't tell you that at the moment … the main thing from our point of view with Steven is to make sure he is fit for the T20 World Cup and of course the Ashes next season."
Smith played six games for the Delhi Capitals in April-May, having returned to action in a 50-over match with NSW on March 31 with a fine 86no during which he looked to have shaken off any issues with his problem elbow.
The fact that it is a recurring issue for the 32-year-old is problematic for an Australia side that has at times been reliant on his batting, particularly in Ashes cricket, in which Smith has performed Bradmanesque deeds across the past three series.
Yet it is in the shortest format that the issue is most pressing, as an Australia squad today shorn of 300 T20I matches' experience begins what is increasingly looking like a scrambled preparation for the T20 World Cup, scheduled for October-November.
After going more than three-and-a-half years without playing T20Is, the right-hander has established himself as a pivotal part of Australia's top four with the most productive period of his career, tallying 363 runs at 40.33 with a strike-rate of 139 across his past 12 innings.
Hohns also expanded on the situation around Marnus Labuschagne's exclusion from the white-ball touring party, with the Queenslander in red-hot form with Glamorgan in the UK's domestic T20 Blast, having hit 93no, 59 and 74 while collecting four wickets in three matches to date.
Cricket Australia last month detailed the "logistical complexities" regarding Labuschagne's potential involvement, though that was queried in relation to the squad selections of Ben McDermott and Dan Christian, both of whom were also taking part in the T20 Blast.
"Marnus's is a totally different situation to the other two," Hohns said. "Marnus went over some time ago to play County cricket and he also had the opportunity to play a lot of T20 cricket, which is something that he expressed to us that he would really like to do.
"Had we brought him back to go on this tour, the chances were he may not have played a lot of cricket compared to what he was going to get in the UK, plus the isolations – a couple of weeks here, probably a couple of weeks back in England – he was going to miss a lot of cricket.
"We in conjunction with Marnus – he was totally involved in this decision – thought it was in his best interests to continue to play cricket in England. We are certainly watching his performances in the T20 competition over there – that has not gone unnoticed.
"I expect (Christian and McDermott) probably will (play in the Caribbean), because Ben was in terrific form as we saw last Big Bash, so he certainly warrants the opportunity, and Dan Christian is a very experienced T20 cricketer who can win a game for you, and we need people in this T20 squad who can win games."
Despite being in the original 23-man preliminary squad, two-time KFC BBL player of the tournament D'Arcy Short, currently playing in the T20 Blast with Hampshire, was overlooked for a place in the final 18-man group.
Test allrounder Cameron Green, who was one of six players added to that preliminary squad last week when it became clear a host of front-line stars would be making themselves unavailable, was another player for whom the selectors were happy to take a broader view.
"We considered taking him to the West Indies and Bangladesh, however … we thought his best preparation for the summer – and we regard him as a very important component of our Test match side – we wanted him cherry ripe for (the Ashes) in particular at this stage of his career," Hohns explained.
"He can have a nice winter off, he can start training and getting himself up for the start of our season, particularly for red-ball cricket. So at the moment, we thought it best to leave him here to do that."
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)
* Five-match T20 tour of Bangladesh is yet to be confirmed. Tours are subject to agreement on bio-security arrangements and relevant government approvals.