The injured Mitchell Starc and Chris Lynn were named in Australia’s 15-man squad for the Champions Trophy on Thursday (April 20).
Starc had suffered a stress fracture on his right foot during Australia’s four-match Test series in India, and was forced to return home after the second Test. Lynn, the aggressive batsman, injured his shoulder while fielding in an Indian Premier League game, but he too got the nod in the Steven Smith-led side.
Starc will lead the pace attack that consists of genuine quick bowlers in Pat Cummins and James Pattinson, with Josh Hazlewood providing steady support. John Hastings, the medium pacer, also made it to the squad, returning after an injury lay-off.
Adam Zampa, the legspinner, was the only specialist spinner in the squad. Aaron Finch, meanwhile, retained his place in the batting order ahead of Usman Khawaja and George Bailey, who both missed the cut.
The most notable omission in the squad was that of James Faulkner. The allrounder starred in Australia’s successful World Cup 2015 campaign, but has fallen behind in the pecking order with Moises Henriques and Marcus Stoinis preferred.
Henriques last played a One-Day International in August 2016 but played in Australia’s Twenty20 International series against Sri Lanka at home earlier this year. He has also been in reasonable form, making a good start in the IPL this year for the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Speaking on the make-up of the squad, Trevor Hohns, the chief selector, said: “We have selected a very exciting well balanced squad that will give us plenty of options with both batting and bowling, depending on the conditions. We are in a very fortunate position at the moment with a large number of quality players available for selection, as such this was a very difficult team to choose and there have been some unlucky players on this occasion.”
Hohns was particularly excited about Australia’s pace combination, although Pattinson and Hastings were returning from injuries. He was also hopeful that Starc, along with Lynn, would recover in time for the Champions Trophy which starts in June.
“Both James and John have made very good returns from injury and are bowling well for their respective teams in the English County competition as well as both contributing well with the bat,” he said. “When you also add Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins to the fast bowling artillery it becomes a very exciting proposition for Australian cricket.
“Our medical staff will continue to monitor Mitchell and Chris’ recovery from their respective injuries but we are hopeful they will be fit in time for the team’s departure on May 18.”
Hohns called Faulkner’s omission ‘unlucky’ but stressed that Australia’s selectors trusted Henriques to step in.
“James has been a consistent performer for the one-day squad for several years, however with players such as Pattinson, Cummins and Hastings coming back to full fitness and the emergence of Marcus Stoinis, James was squeezed out of the squad and an unlucky omission,” explained Hohns. “Moises finished off the domestic season very well and has had a great start in the Indian Premier League. We believe Moises’ batting has improved significantly in the past six months and he will provide us with a strong option should he be selected.”
Those players who are in Australia will depart for England on May 18, while the ones who are in the IPL will join as and when their teams finish in the tournament, whose final is slated for May 21.
Australia are slotted in Group A with England, Bangladesh and New Zealand. They begin their campaign against Bangladesh in Birmingham on June 5.
Squad: Steve Smith (capt), David Warner (vice-capt), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (wk), Adam Zampa.