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Australia's brightest rising T20 star JMK may have to wait his turn for World Cup selection, despite already setting IPL alight

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24th April, 2024
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Another year and another ICC World Cup is upon us in a couple of months. After the excitement of the 50-over World Cup last year, this time it’s the World Cup of the crash and bang – the ICC World T20

Sports are what dreams are made of – but it goes without saying that they are not a common occurrence.

What a fairytale story it would be if Australia – the reigning WTC champions, the reigning ODI champions, the reigning Under 19s champions, the reigning Women’s 50 over champions and the reigning Women’s T20 World champions – were to add the only trophy missing from the cabinet at the moment.

But as stated such fairytales are very rare occurrences.

So it’s now that time when the preliminary squads for the World Cup are announced. The selectors will convene and deliver a 15-man package before the deadline of May 1.

So going by the few T20 series that Australia played in the last year, the BBL and the ongoing IPL. Let us have a look at what this possible 15-member squad could look like.

As usual, the first step would be to jot down the players who would be regular and automatic selections:

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  1. David Warner
  2. Mitch Marsh
  3. Glenn Maxwell
  4. Tim David
  5. Josh Inglis
  6. Matthew Wade
  7. Adam Zampa
  8. Pat Cummins
  9. Mitchell Starc
  10. Josh Hazlewood

A few people would be surprised to see the name of Mathew Wade appear in my list of certain starters.

However, his association with the T20 team for the past few years, the role he played in that World Cup victory and in particular his inclusion in the T20 series against India – when Inglis was also present. That signals that he is very much in the selectors’ minds.

He is an option for the keeper spot and if he plays, will certainly occupy that number seven ‘finishers’ spot – a role which he played so well in the victorious World Cup campaign.

Two more players seem to be certainties to go to the World Cup – Travis Head and Matt Short.

Travis Head celebrates his century during the World Cup final.

Travis Head celebrates his century during the World Cup final. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Head has been in irresistible form in the IPL and his contributions throughout last year in major tournaments also make a big case for him.

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For mine, he is a lock to open the batting with whoever it is at the other end. Short has also been included in almost every limited-over team throughout last year and most probably will be moving up to his preferred opening position once the likes of Warner retire.

Another skill angle to these two players is that they provide handy spin bowling options – and that is absolutely gold in today’s times.

So now that we have arrived at 12 players the 13-14th spot would most definitely be backup fast bowlers.

One name immediately springs to mind: Spencer Johnson. But given his ability to swing the ball, Xavier Bartlett seems to be a huge option.

Swinging the ball is like gold in this crash-bang cricket scenario and he possesses not only the swing but also the control which could be huge in the powerplay.

The other possible option is Nathan Ellis who is also quite a handy bowler with his variety.

The only other bowler who had a chance – Jason Behrendorff – bowled quite well in that India series, swings the new ball and is a left-arm backup option for Starc.

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But his injury is a huge blow to his chances. It is a tough choice but if I were the selector, I would pick Bartlett and Ellis and most unfortunately keep Johnson out for the moment.

Down to 14 and we are left with just the final slot.

This slot would be filled by an all-rounder and it is going to be a tough choice between Green, Stoinis and Aaron Hardie. Aussie selectors rate Hardie quite highly and he seems to be the future not only in T20 but also across formats.

Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade of Australia.

Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade of Australia. (Photo by Mark Brake-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

Currently, though it seems that he may miss out on a place in the final 15.

Selection of both Green and Stoinis is also possible (at the expense of a backup fast bowler) however there are a couple of factors that need to be looked at beforehand.

Firstly some of the wickets would be drop-in wickets and also the abundance of spin-bowling all-rounders like Maxwell, Head and Short makes a case for picking just one medium-pace all-rounder.

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So if one were to choose between Green and Stoinis, personally I would go with Cam Green just given his all-round game and pedigree.

Stoinis has also played for a long time and maybe has not provided the impact that is expected out of his playing position.

We can also easily argue for a backup for Zampa – but if it did not happen in the 50 over World Cup in the subcontinent – it definitely is not happening in this instance

So if we were to conclude the final 15 would come out to be like this:

  1. David Warner
  2. Mitch Marsh(C)
  3. Glenn Maxwell
  4. Tim David
  5. Josh Inglis(WK)
  6. Matthew Wade(WK)
  7. Adam Zampa
  8. Pat Cummins
  9. Mitchell Starc
  10. Josh Hazlewood
  11. Travis Head
  12. Matt Short
  13. Xavier Bartlett
  14. Nathan Ellis
  15. Cam Green

That – ladies and gentlemen – leaves out one name who has lately compelled us to think about him.

The mammoth rise of Jake Fraser-McGurk – his enormous potential and the destructive shot-making that he possesses makes him a very tempting option.

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However, going by the traditions and processes of the Australian selectors, it seems unlikely that he will make the final 15 for this World Cup.

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You just think that his era will start after the end of this World Cup – when he could possibly, think of this, open the batting with Travis Head.

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