Should he have been picked?
Mitchell Starc’s bid to return this month has failed because of a fresh setback, while Steve Smith and David Warner also won’t take part in Australia’s ODI series against Pakistan.
Australia have named an unchanged 15-man squad for the five-match series that starts in the UAE on March 22.
Aaron Finch’s team, currently in India for a five-match ODI series, will travel directly from Delhi to Dubai next week.
Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns and coach Justin Langer were initially optimistic Starc, who suffered a pectoral injury while returning to form against Sri Lanka in early February, would join the touring party in the UAE.
“Unfortunately, Mitchell Starc’s recovery from his left pectoral muscle strain has been set back by a slight recurrence as he commenced bowling,” Hohns said.
“This has ruled him out of the Pakistan series and while frustrating for all involved, our focus is to have Mitch ready for the World Cup.”
Josh Hazlewood (back) also remains unavailable but the news is better for Kane Richardson, who was sent home from India because of a minor side strain but has been named in the squad for the UAE.
Smith and Warner’s year-long suspensions for their role in the Cape Town cheating scandal expire later this month and they could have played the final two ODIs against Pakistan, on March 29 and March 31.
Langer and Cricket Australia (CA) boss Kevin Roberts admitted during the home summer it was possible the gifted batsmen, who are set to be included in the 15-man World Cup squad if fit, would be rushed back immediately against Pakistan.
Such a scenario would have presented some logistical challenges, given the constraints of Smith and Warner’s bans, but could have fast-tracked their reintegration process.
Smith and Warner’s elbow injuries ultimately made it an easy call.
The disgrace duo will instead return to the fray during a World Cup training camp in Brisbane in early May.
The final decision was made after selectors consulted with Langer, team medicos, team performance boss Belinda Clark plus Smith and Warner.
“Steve and David have been working through rehabilitation from elbow surgery and it has been agreed the best pathway for them to return to play is in the Indian Premier League,” Hohns said.
Smith and Warner, both barred with taking part in the IPL last year, will soon link up with Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively.
“Cricket Australia will continue to liaise with both Steve, David and their IPL clubs to monitor progress as we build towards the ICC World Cup and the Ashes,” Hohns said.
Australia must submit their World Cup squad by April 23.
Australia’s 15-man ODI squad: Aaron Finch (capt), Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, Ashton Turner, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa.