Cricket Australia has announced a preliminary 23-man squad for the upcoming white-ball tour of the West Indies, consisting of five Twenty20 internationals and three One-Day Internationals, across St. Lucia and Barbados in July 2021. The squad includes the IPL players who returned home on May 17 with the Board of Control for Cricket in India arranging a chartered flight for the Australians who had jetted off to Maldives after the postponement of the tournament in early May, owning to the rise of COVID-19 cases across the country and in the secure IPL bio-bubble.
Marnus Labuschagne, who is currently featuring for Glamorgan in the county championship, will miss the tour owing to constraints around travel from the UK and related quarantine procedures.
Preliminary squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Kane Richardson, Jhye Richardson, Tanveer Sangha, D’Arcy Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.
“This preliminary list gives selectors a solid base from which to choose a final touring party in the coming weeks while allowing players to prepare,” Trevor Horns, the national selector, said. “The Australian men’s T20 squad has the ability to match it with any team in the world and the competition for places will be fierce, which is exactly what we are looking for.
“The West Indies men’s team has won two of the six ICC T20 World Cups played, including the most recent tournament in India and 2016, and this series will provide us with excellent preparation ahead of the 2021 edition in October and November.”
With the 2021 World Cup set to be hosted on the slow pitches of either India or the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a host of spinners have got the nod with Ashton Agar (ranked three in the ICC T20I rankings) and Adam Zampa (ranked seven) headlining the names. Leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson, who was with the Test team during the summer, and Tanveer Sangha, who was part of the white-ball tour of New Zealand, have also found a place in the 23-man squad.
“Mitch Swepson has been in exceptional form across all three forms of the game. His Big Bash performances with the Heat have been superb, as was his bowling for Queensland,” Hohns said.
“Tanveer Sanga was extremely impressive for the Thunder and we regard him very highly. While he didn’t play in New Zealand it was a great opportunity for a young bowler to be around the group. Along with the class of Adam and Ashton, we are very fortunate to have four highly capable spinners on this list.”
Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, who were all rested for the white-ball series in New Zealand, return and so do Alex Carey and Moises Henriques. Josh Phillipe, who made his Australia debut during that series, gets another chance to establish his credentials and he will jostle with D’Arcy Short for a place when the final squad is announced. Matthew Wade, who lost his CA contract earlier has been named, has also been named in the squad along with Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Marsh.
“We are very fortunate to have some incredibly dynamic batsmen throughout the entire order who can be match-winners on any given day,” Hohns said. “Like all of our players we hope they will perform consistently, particularly as we approach the World Cup,” the national selector said.
Glenn Maxwell, who enjoyed a settled role at the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the truncated IPL, remains part of the squad and the all-round options of Henriques, Marsh and Stoinis mean Australia will not miss the absence of Labuschagne and Daniel Sams as much. The latter ruled himself out of the series on health and wellbeing grounds, a decision that found support from the CA.
“All-rounders are such a critical part of the T20 game, along with our spinners. As we have seen evolve over time, having players able to give the captain more options make the team far more adaptable to all situations. We feel we have that luxury in this group,” Horns said.
“Anyone who knows Marnus understands he would give absolutely anything to play for Australia and he is deeply upset to miss out due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control. We worked through numerous options in conversations with Marnus to find a workable solution but ultimately came to the conclusion it was more practical for him to remain in the UK.
“Had we not been in the middle of a global pandemic Marnus would be on this tour as a well-established member and important part of the one-day side. It’s an unfortunate circumstance of the many challenges the world is facing right now. As it stands, Marnus has the opportunity to continue in County Cricket and T20 games with Glamorgan as we head into the World Cup and home summer.”
Kane Richardson, Andrew Tye, Jhye Richardson, Riley Meredith and Jason Behrendorff – who were all part of the IPL – complete the pace bowling roster, giving the selectors plenty of opportunities to manoeuvre the final squad. “Kane has for a long time done such a great job complimenting Pat and Mitch in the T20 side. Having the likes of Jhye, Riley, AJ and Josh Hazlewood only adds to the overall depth,” Horns concluded.
The final squad is due to depart for the West Indies in late June.