Hard-luck stories and “bloody hard” decisions await as selectors, with input from Aaron Finch, prepare to pick a 15-man World Cup squad and settle on which two batsmen make way for Steve Smith and David Warner.
Smith and Warner’s year-long bans, handed down by Cricket Australia (CA) in response to the Cape Town cheating scandal, are now over.
CA toyed with the idea of the gifted batsmen playing the final two ODIs against Pakistan, on Friday and Sunday, but the pair’s elbow injuries in January scotched that idea.
Smith and Warner are instead out to prove form and fitness in the Indian Premier League, with their respective franchises to clash in Hyderabad on Friday.
Coach Justin Langer and selectors will meet soon after the completion of the current ODI series to finalise a 15-man World Cup squad, which must be submitted by April 23.
The disgraced duo are fully expected to be included.
Ashton Turner looms as the most likely man to make way but he and every other specialist batsman in the current squad has produced a match-winning innings during the current six-match winning streak.
“It is bloody hard …there’s going to be some very unlucky blokes out there,” Finch admitted.
“No matter who misses out on the squad. Especially when the side is playing so well, it’s going to be difficult.
“I will definitely have my views. Justin (Langer) and I, we talk all the time.
“Every day about selections and team make-ups, different scenarios and things like that.”
The fact that quicks Mitchell Starc (torn pec), Josh Hazlewood (back) and Jhye Richardson (dislocated shoulder) are all racing the clock to be fit for the 50-over tournament adds another level of complexity.
The anniversary of the Newlands nightmare has dredged up unpleasant memories for many members of Australia’s squad this week.
Finch was unaware of Mark Taylor and Ian Healy’s comments regarding potential previous instances of ball tampering but felt it was time to move on from the incident that Smith repeatedly declared was a one off.
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion but … all the players I know have moved on,” Finch said.
“Guys are back playing, Steve and Davey are available for selection.
“Everyone’s moved on. They’ve done their time. Same with Cam (Bancroft).”
CA chief executive Kevin Roberts defended his organisation’s probe into the sandpaper saga, which was criticised by former CA board member Taylor and Healy.
“We’re dealing with the ‘what is’ rather than the ‘what ifs’. We could jump at shadows, we could react to innuendo,” Roberts said.
“If facts come to light, we’ll be addressing those.”