Australia have announced some surprise selections in their 18-player squad for ICC World Cup 2023 in India.
Uncapped leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha and inexperienced all-rounder Aaron Hardie are the surprise inclusions, with Test star Marnus Labuschagne the notable omission from Australia’s squad that will be reduced to 15 players closer to the start of the tournament on October 5.
Under ICC regulations squads must be finalised prior to September 28, with Australia’s first game at this year’s World Cup coming against hosts India in Chennai on October 8.
Captain Pat Cummins will be racing against the clock to be fit for that opening contest after it was revealed the fast bowler picked up a fractured wrist during the recent Ashes series against England.
Cummins has been advised to let the injured area rest for six weeks and the right-arm is hoping to return to playing prior to the commencement of the World Cup.
Chief selector George Bailey revealed Cummins has ‘an undisplaced fracture of his left radius which requires six weeks rehabilitation’, but believes the rest prior to the start of the tournament will do him good.
“We view a period of enforced rest for Pat as a positive ahead of this important World Cup campaign.
“There are still a number of games he could play before the World Cup which is more than enough for him to have a strong preparation.”
Australia will prepare for the World Cup with a five-match series against South Africa next month and the likes of Sangha and Hardie are sure to be given the chance to impress during those matches.
Australia’s preliminary World Cup Squad: Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Aaron Hardie, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tanveer Sangha, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa.
While Sangha has been a part of previous T20I tours for Australia, he is yet to win a debut and could be another spin option alongside Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa on the spin-friendly Indian pitches sides are expected to encounter.
Hardie is likely to be competing with the likes of Mitch Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, and Glenn Maxwell for all-rounder places in Australia’s side in India, while the omission of Labuschagne is a surprise as the right-hander has only missed eight 50-over contests for his country since debuting at the start of 2020.
Bailey believes the squad is well-balanced and is confident Australia can claim a sixth World Cup title following their previous successes in 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2015.
“This side has been extremely impressive for several years in limited-overs cricket,” Bailey said.
“There is an enormous amount of skill and experience in the group, which you need in a World Cup.