Australia’s selectors have erred on the side of experience for next month’s ICC World Twenty20 in the Caribbean, naming Brett Lee and Mike Hussey on Tuesday after a summer of experimenting without them.
Lee has only played one match – returning an unthreatening 0-39 from four overs for Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League – since recovering from a serious elbow injury, but the 33-year-old was nonetheless chosen ahead of Ryan Harris, who will wonder what he’s done wrong.
Hussey, meanwhile, has not played a T20 match for the national side since last year’s tour of England, and selection chairman Andrew Hilditch made a point of saying he was not being rested earlier in the summer.
In his place had been Travis Birt, another curious omission from the squad after limited opportunities to press his case as a young and muscular hitter in the middle order.
The selectors’ reversion to Lee and Hussey is a conservative call, but Hilditch defended the decision as opting for two of the better international T20 performers Australia has had.
“While Brett Lee hasn’t played the amount of cricket we would’ve liked him to in preparation for this World Cup, at his best he is one of the best Twenty20 cricketers in the world,” he said.
“He also has the opportunity of continuing to play in the IPL as preparation for this tournament.
“Ryan Harris is extremely unlucky to miss selection given his strong performances in all forms of the game in recent times for Australia.
“Travis Birt is also unlucky to miss selection. He also had limited opportunity leading up to selection but we’ve gone with Mike Hussey who brings great international experience and is in fantastic form in all formats of the game right now.”
Hilditch and his panel have spent considerable time mulling over their options for a tournament the Australians are yet to win, despite their pre-eminence in the game’s other formats in recent years.
A more concerted effort to choose players on the strength of their T20 performances has seen the inclusion of the young allrounders Daniel Christian and Steve Smith, plus Dirk Nannes, who represented the Netherlands in England last year.
“We’ve been preparing hard for this tournament since the last event and we’re pleased with the squad’s performance in recent games, under the captaincy of Michael Clarke,” said Hilditch.
“The squad has a good mix of experience and exciting young talent and is capable, at its best, of playing competitive and entertaining Twenty20 cricket.”
Australian squad: Michael Clarke (capt), Cameron White, Daniel Christian, Brad Haddin, Nathan Hauritz, David Hussey, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Dirk Nannes, Tim Paine, Steve Smith, Shaun Tait, David Warner, Shane Watson.