The ICC Cricket World Cup in England is just five months away but it seems Australia, the five-time and defending champions have decided that this is the time for a total overhaul in their ODI side. The squad picked in the three-match series against India has included some surprise picks and omissions. The squad sees the return of Peter Siddle, who last played an ODI against Sri Lanka in Sydney in 2010, along with Nathan Lyon and Usman Khawaja. Lyon, who is primarily Australia’s gun bowler in Tests, has played just 15 ODIs and last played in the format during the series in England in which Australia were whitewashed 5-0.
The likes of D’Arcy Short, Ben McDermott, Ashton Agar and Chris Lynn have all been dropped while the fast bowling trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood has all been rested. In a statement released by Cricket Australia, chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said key players had not capitalised on their chances. “Travis Head, D'Arcy Short and Chris Lynn have had opportunities to cement their spots, but unfortunately, they have not been as productive as we would have liked in recent times when playing ODI cricket for Australia. With a focus on improving our ability to post competitive totals we've recalled Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb and Mitch Marsh to the squad. Usman is a batsman we know can put vital runs on the board at the top of the order, and Peter is not only a fine player of spin bowling, he's also a batsman we know can hold an innings together while keeping the scoreboard ticking over,” Hohns said.
Siddle played in the Domestic One-Day competition and managed to take nine wickets in seven games for Victoria. Khawaja has not played ODIs for Australia since the series against Pakistan. The dropping of Lynn has evoked mixed response. The Queensland right-hander failed in the series against South Africa, managing scores of 15,44 and 0. However, in the Big Bash League, he blasted 84 for the Brisbane Heat against the Sydney Sixers at the Carrara Oval. Short has underperformed in four ODIs while in the Twenty20 series against South Africa, he did not gain much success.
The heavy workload of Cummins, Hazlewood and Starc in the Test series against India sees them getting rested for the ODIs but Australia have suffered a jolt with Nathan Coulter-Nile, their other pace option, being rested after complaining of back soreness in the Big Bash League for Perth Scorchers.
Australia play three ODIs against India, starting on January 12, with the remaining matches being played on January 15 and January 18. Following the end of the ODI series, Australia play Sri Lanka and then could embark on ODI tours to India and the UAE against Pakistan. The series against Pakistan could see the return of David Warner and Steve Smith following the end of their one-year ban imposed on them following the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town.
Australia squad for India ODI series
Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Peter Siddle, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa