Smith, Warner return, Finch to lead Aussie WC squad

Melbourne [Australia]: Steve Smith and David Warner have been included in the Aaron Finch-led Australia squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, announced on Monday.

The 50-over tournament will take place in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14. Australia will open its World Cup title defence against Afghanistan at the Bristol County Ground on June 1.

The return of Smith and Warner has strengthened the batting line-up of the title defenders. However, the inclusion of big hitters has led to the dropping of in-form batsman Peter Handscomb and Ashton Turner.

“Steve Smith and David Warner come back into the squad. Both are world class players and it has been pleasing to see them produce some good form in the IPL. 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,” Chairman of Selectors, Trevor 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.”

Handscomb, Turner, Richardson and Josh Hazlewood have been included in the Australia A squad for the tour of England. Having not played at the highest level for some time, the selection panel feels this will provide Hazlewood 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.”

Meanwhile, the selectors have opted for Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jason Behrendorff as their five fast-bowling options in the World Cup squad. Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon form a two-man spin attack.

“Mitchell Starc and Jhye Richardson have both been named subject to fitness. The advice from the CA medical team is they are progressing well and barring any setbacks will be available for selection ahead of our opening match against Afghanistan on June 1,” Hohns said.

The 15-member squad is as follows: Aaron Finch (c) , Usman Khawaja, David Warner, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (vc), Pat Cummins (vc), Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa.

The squad will assemble in Brisbane for a training camp at the National Cricket Centre on May 2, which will include three practice matches between Australia XI and New Zealand XI at Allan Border Field.

The selectors have announced a fourteen-player squad for the Australia A tour of England, starting June 20 against Northamptonshire at The County Ground.

“The tour will see Australia A play five one day matches against County teams while the ICC World Cup is underway. This will provide us with the appropriate coverage to bring players into the Australian World Cup squad if required,” Hohns said.

Following is the Australia A One Day squad: Travis Head (c), Matthew Wade, Will Pucovski, Peter Handscomb, Ashton Turner, Mitch Marsh (vc), D’Arcy Short, Kurtis Patterson, Ashton Agar, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood (vc), Kane Richardson, Sean Abbott.

“The tour will see Australia A play three four-day tour matches in the build-up to the Ashes tour of England, providing the players with a good opportunity to push their case for selection. We have made it clear that strong form with their County teams will be taken into account for selection in the Ashes squad or the Australia v Australia A tour match.”

The squad for Australia A Four Day is as follows: Tim Paine (c), Marcus Harris, Kurtis Patterson, Will Pucovski, Travis Head (vc), Peter Handscomb, Matthew Wade, Mitch Marsh, Michael Neser, Jon Holland, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird, Josh Hazlewood (vc), Chris Tremain.