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Former Australia captain Steve Smith and opener David Warner will both make their international comebacks at the World Cup after they were included in Australia’s squad.
Smith and Warner have not played any international cricket since they were both banned for 12 months over their involvement in the ball tampering scandal that occurred during Australia’s tour of South Africa in March last year.
Smith and Warner are currently playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL), with the former representing the Rajasthan Royals and the latter the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Meanwhile, batsman Peter Handscomb had to pay the price for the duo’s return and was left out of the squad.
Handscomb played in Australia’s last 13 ODIs, in which he scored a century and three half-centuries. He also averaged 43.54 and had a strike-rate of 98.15.
“He’s obviously disappointed and everyone is disappointed for him,” captain Aaron Finch was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “We knew that there was going to be some really tough decisions and some really big tough calls to be made on the squad and unfortunately Pete was that one. It shows the great strength of our group at the moment that we’re leaving guys in really good form out. I think that’s a reflection of where we come over the last couple of months in particular so he’s obviously disappointed but he also understands.”
Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns added: “Given the depth of talent and competition for spots there were a number of tough calls we had to make to settle on our squad of 15,” Hohns said. “Unfortunately, from the recent squad which toured India and the UAE, Peter Handscomb, Ashton Turner and Kane Richardson have made way for the above inclusions, but all three have been included in the Australia A squad for the tour of England.”
Pace bowler Josh Hazlewood was another big name omitted, but he has been nursing a back injury since January.
Left-arm seamer Mitchell Starc will picked, even though he has not featured in Australia’s last 13 ODIs.
As for the rest of the pace attack, it consists of Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff and Jhye Richardson, who is currently recovering from a dislocated shoulder.
However, Hohns made it clear that Starc and Richardson will have to prove their fitness ahead of the World Cup.
“Josh Hazlewood has also been named in the Australia A squad. Having not played at the highest level for some time, we feel this will provide him with the best preparation to get some quality cricket under his belt. Our focus is to have Josh back bowling at his best for the commencement of a big Ashes Tour,” Hohns said.
Alex Carey is the lone wicketkeeper in the squad, while Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa will make up the spin attack.
Australia will kick off their World Cup campaign against Afghanistan in Bristol on June 1.
Australia’s World Cup 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