Smith and Warner make World Cup return; Handscomb and Hazlewood out

Steven Smith and David Warner will make their international returns at the World Cup after both were named in Australia’s 15-man squad.

But their comeback has come at a price with Peter Handscomb a surprise omission from the squad while Josh Hazlewood has also been left out.

It means that Warner and Smith, who also return to the CA central contract list for 2019-2020, could play their first international since the Cape Town Test on June 1 against Afghanistan in Bristol when Australia open their World Cup campaign. Before then there is a training camp in Brisbane with three one-day games against New Zealand that aren’t full internationals followed by warm-up matches in England.

The pair have been using the IPL to help prepare for the World Cup following elbow surgery. Warner has been in sparkling form for Sunrisers Hyderabad but Smith, whose injury was more severe, has found life a bit tougher for Rajasthan Royals.

Mitchell Starc has been included among a group of five fast bowlers despite not playing in Australia’s last 13 ODI’s, but there was no room for Hazlewood who has been sidelined with a back injury since January. The selection panel picked Pat Cummins, Jhye Richardson, who is also returning from a shoulder dislocation, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jason Behrendorff. Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said Starc and Richardson had been selected subject to fitness. Squads came be changed until May 23 without ICC permission.

Handscomb’s omission is the most surprising. The return of Smith and Warner meant there was an over-supply of top order batsman but it was thought Handscomb’s excellent recent record and his skills as a back-up wicketkeeper would almost certainly see him included.

Handcomb has played each of Australia’s last 13 matches making a century and three half-centuries, averaging 43.54 and striking at 98.15. In Australia’s eight-game winning streak on the tours of India and the UAE he was one of only three players, alongside Glenn Maxwell and Ashton Turner, to strike above 100. His 117 in Mohali was pivotal as Australia chased down 359, their highest chase in ODI history. Turner also made 84 not out from 43 balls in that innings but he too has been left out of the 15-man squad.

Alex Carey is the sole wicketkeeper in the squad leaving Australia exposed if he gets injured during the warm-up of any World Cup game. As expected, both Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon have been included as the two spinners in the squad.

Squad Aaron Finch (capt), David Warner, Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Adam Zampa, Nathan Lyon.

More to come

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