David Warner and Steve Smith have been named in Australia’s Cricket World Cup squad.
Smith and Warner return to Cricket Australia’s international fold following 12-month bans for their involvement in the ball-tampering scandal that erupted in South Africa last year.
They were named in the 15-man squad announced on Monday morning. It will be captained by Aaron Finch, while Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja have been retained as batsmen.
Peter Handscomb has been dropped.
Paceman Josh Hazlewood also has missed out on World Cup selection with all-rounder Nathan Coulter-Nile and left-arm quick Jason Behrendorff the two surprise picks in Australia’s defence of its title.
Hazlewood has not played a one-dayer for Australia since November due to injury, but can lay claim to being one of the team’s best bowlers over the past two years.
His 17 wickets in that period have come at a team-low average of 25.05, while his economy rate of 5.01 is second only to Pat Cummins among the quicks.
Chief selector Trevor Hohns made it clear the panel wants Hazlewood to focus on being fit and firing for the subsequent Ashes series in England as he returns from a back injury.
He has been selected in the Australia A squad to play in England during the World Cup.
“Having not played at the highest level for some time, we feel this will provide him with the best preparation to get some quality cricket under his belt,” Hohns said.
Fellow paceman Jhye Richardson and Mitchell Starc were included in the World Cup squad as they prepare to return after shoulder dislocation and pectoral injuries respectively.
Richardson’s undeniable recent ODI form, which included 17 wickets in eight matches, no doubt made the decision to overlook Hazlewood somewhat easier.
It means Coulter-Nile and Behrendorff will likely be the back-up quicks, while Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon have been picked as spinning options.
The biggest questions will likely surround Australia’s batting line-up when it opens its World Cup campaign against Afghanistan on June 1, with Finch, Khawaja and Warner in a three-way battle to open the batting.
Finch and Usman Khawaja have averaged 81 for the opening stand in 10 games together in the past year – the highest of any regular combination in the past 12 months.
But Warner looks in devastating form, topping the Indian Premier League run-scoring lists with 400 at an average of 80 while batting at the top of the order for Sunrisers Hyderabad.