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Steve Smith left out of T20 World Cup squad as Australia shift towards new era
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Steve Smith left out of T20 World Cup squad as Australia shift towards new era

Steve Smith has been left out of the men’s T20 squad World Cup for next month’s tournament in the Caribbean, signalling a shift towards a new era for Australian cricket.

But selectors chose not to include youngster Jake Fraser-McGurk despite 259 runs in six Indian Premier League matches including 84 off 27 in Delhi’s victory over Mumbai on Saturday.

Chair of selectors, George Bailey, said this was an “experienced” squad that “covers the scenarios the panel believes will factor in the West Indies” but Smith had not done enough to win a place at the top of order.

“We’ve had a handful of players – probably more than some other countries – that have been multi-format for a long, long period of time, and it’s natural that some of those will start to drop off,” he said.

He said Smith and Fraser-McGurk were both part of “long conversations” and there is still the opportunity to change the squad before the tournament, but his panel were limited to 15 players and are happy with the current balance.

The side is largely as expected, and is led by Mitch Marsh. It includes openers David Warner and Travis Head. First-choice fast bowlers Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood are joined by Hobart Hurricanes’ Nathan Ellis.

Ashton Agar is back in the squad as back-up spinner behind Adam Zampa. Matthew Wade and Josh Inglis provide wicketkeeping options.

MitchMarsh and Glenn Maxwell celebrate Australia’s win in the 2021 final.View image in fullscreen

Marsh has filled in as captain since the retirement of Aaron Finch after Australia’s failed T20 World Cup campaign in 2022, but his position was formalised on Wednesday.

The 32-year old said it was a “good group of people” and a privilege to be named captain.

“We have had some strong success in recent times and I am hopeful that will continue in what looks like a wide-open tournament,” Marsh said.

Smith’s exclusion comes after limited T20 opportunities and a poor return from two matches against New Zealand in February. He made scores of 11 and 4 against the Black Caps opening the batting alongside Head.

Smith didn’t have the opportunity to impress selectors in the IPL, after he was overlooked in this season’s auction.

Bailey wouldn’t rule out a T20 return for Smith, but his future was up to him.

“I still think he’s got an enormous amount of good cricket left ahead of him. Across what formats, I think that’s as much for him to decide where he wants to go with his cricket going forward,” Bailey said.

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Smith’s comments after the New Zealand series suggested he anticipated his Australian T20 career might have run its course.

“I’m easy, I’m content where everything’s at in my career and what I’ve been able to do so if I’m part of the World Cup great, I’d love to be, but if I’m not then so be it,” he said in February.

Fraser-McGurk – who turned 22 last month – left his run narrowly too late, despite his recent IPL heroics.

At the start of last season he relocated to South Australia, and the move paid dividends.

In October he set a new record for fastest List A century, hitting three figures against Tasmania off just 29 balls. And he made his Australian 50-over debut against the West Indies in February, and hit 41 off 18 in his second match.

Back-to-back BBL MVP Matt Short was also overlooked, although Bailey noted he was another one who was among final cuts.

Australia’s provisional 15-man T20 World Cup squad

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

Source: theguardian.com