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T20 World Cup: Smith among those omitted by Australia

Australia have confirmed their 15-man squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup in the West Indies and United States and batters Steve Smith and Jake Fraser-McGurk missed out on selection.

Veteran Smith and rising star Fraser-McGurk were just two of the players unfortunate to be overlooked for the tournament, with Mitchell Marsh named as captain despite currently being troubled by a hamstring injury.

Chairman of selectors George Bailey confirmed that Matt Short, Aaron Hardie, Jason Behrendorff, Spencer Johnson and Xavier Bartlett had also been mentioned as options and admitted that making the final call had been tricky.

Left-arm spinner Ashton Agar has earned a place in the squad despite having not featured in T20 international cricket since the last World Cup, held in Australia in late 2022.

The Baggy Greens are currently available at 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.

Australia squad

Mitchell Marsh (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.

Specialist batters in short supply

Australia have certainly put their faith in all-rounders when naming their squad, with just four specialist batters included in their 15-man party.

One of those is David Warner, who is the leading Australian runscorer in T20 World Cup cricket, having amassed 806 runs to date, making him the sixth most prolific batter overall in the competition.

Three of the quartet of specialist batters - Warner, Travis Head and Matthew Wade - are left-handers, with middle-order big-hitter Tim David the lone right-hander to secure a place.

Wicketkeeper-batter Josh Inglis is also included and is likely to be first choice with the gloves, although Wade is a more than useful option if required and both men are hugely capable with the willow.

That leaves Smith, Fraser-McGurk and Matt Short out in the cold, with Fraser-McGurk perhaps the most unlucky to have missed out, having put in some thunderous performances in both the Big Bash League and the IPL.

Short can also feel slightly hard done by after racking up a tournament-high 541 runs during the 2023/24 BBL campaign.

All-rounders hold the key to success

Skipper Marsh is one of five all-rounders included in the Aussie squad, with Bailey explaining that the need for flexibility was uppermost in the selectors thoughts.

Marsh is joined by Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Cameron Green and Agar, with both Maxwell and Agar offering quality spin back-up options to leg-spinner Adam Zampaa.

Stonis was the leading runscorer for Australia at the last T20 World Cup, while Green, like Agar, has featured in 20-over international cricket since that tournament on home soil.

Maxwell remains one of the most dangerous batters in world cricket and will be eager to repeat his heroics of the 2023 50-over World Cup, when his ridiculous 201 not out against Afghanistan was the catalyst for the Baggy Greens’ charge to the final and subsequent victory over tournament hosts India.

Bartlett misses out on bowling spot

Australia have gone with tried and trusted in the bowling department, with Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc joined by Nathan Ellis as the pace options and Zampa the lone specialist spinner included.

Left-armers Behrendorff and Johnson must have been close to earning the nod, while Bartlett goes unrewarded for being the leading wicket-taker in the most recent BBL season.

A factor in the selection may well have been the fact that the economy rates for bowlers at the six venues Australia will play at are all significantly lower for spinners than seamers, meaning that Agar and Maxwell could be in for plenty of work with the ball.

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