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T20 World Cup: Fraser-McGurk absence the big talking point

There were few surprises when Australia named their 15-man squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup, with the omission of young batting star Jake Fraser-McGurk the major point of interest.

Steve Smith also missed out, while seamer Xavier Bartlett can consider himself unfortunate not to have been given the nod, but it is the absence of Fraser-McGurk from the squad list which has provoked the most chatter.

The big-hitting 22-year-old right-hander smacked 18 sixes during the most recent Big Bash League season, while he finished with 28 maximums from nine knocks for Delhi Capitals in the IPL.

That was not enough to convince the Australian selectors, but Fraser-McGurk may be called for if injuries hit a Baggy Greens party hoping to repeat the run to glory of 2021.

Australia are currently 4.50 to win the T20 World Cup for the second time, while they are 1.80 to win their group, which also includes 2.00 holders England, Namibia, Scotland and Oman.

Six-hitting not enough to earn selection

Fraser-McGurk burst on to the scene as a teenager, making half-centuries in his first innings in both first-class and List A cricket in November 2019, but his career stalled for some time after that.

That all changed just under four years later, when he made what remains the fastest-ever List A century, off just 29 balls, for Victoria against Tasmania.

Fraser-McGurk was clearly inspired by that knock and showed his massive potential for Melbourne Renegades in the BBL, making 257 runs from eight innings at a strike-rate of 158.64 and clearing the boundary no fewer than 18 times.

That was enough to catch the eye of Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting and the right-hander did not disappoint, bringing fireworks at the top of the order.

Delhi narrowly missed out on the IPL play-offs, but Fraser-McGurk was certainly not to blame as he belted 28 sixes from just nine knocks, while his strike-rate was an eye-watering 234.04 - the highest for any proper batter in the tournament.

The young Aussie passed 50 on four occasions for the Capitals, with his top knock the 84 off 27 balls he smashed in a 10-run win over Mumbai Indians - with his strike-rate in that knock a scarcely believable 311.11.

Fraser-McGurk was handed an Australia debut in the ODI series against West Indies just before he headed off to the IPL, but it seems he will have to wait a little longer to appear on the T20 international scene.

Big call places pressure on Warner

Consistency in both selection and runscoring may have a been a factor in the selectors overlooking Fraser-McGurk for the action in the West Indies and United Sates.

The 22-year-old takes an approach which will always be a little hit-and-miss, which is the way many top-order batters have chosen to go in T20 cricket in recent times.

What is certain is that questions will be asked if Australia doe not impress at the T20 World Cup, with their opening slots set to be taken by Travis Head - who has dazzled at the IPL - and David Warner.

Warner’s performances will certainly be closely scrutinised, with the 37-year-old left-hander bowing out of the international picture when the global event reaches its conclusion.

The veteran certainly has credit in the bank, having made more than 100 T20I appearances for the Baggy Greens and passed 50 twice in three knocks in the recent T20I series at home to West Indies.

However, there is sure to be concern around his showing at the IPL, where, after initially doing well alongside Fraser-McGurk for the Capitals, he tailed off with scores of 18, 10, 8,1 and 1 in his final five innings.

Warner has all the experience and quality to turn things around and add to the Australia-record 806 runs he has scored at T20 World Cups, but should he fail to do so, it is certain that the name Fraser-McGurk will be getting plenty of mentions.

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