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Australia T20 World Cup squad: Smith to be snubbed, Fraser-McGurk's IPL fireworks ignored as selectors take safe options

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29th April, 2024
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Australia are set to turn their back on rising star Jake Fraser-McGurk’s whirlwind IPL form and drop Steve Smith in their T20 World Cup squad. 

The selectors are expected to announce their 15-man squad later this week for the showpiece event in June which will be co-hosted by the West Indies and United States.

Fraser-McGurk has been wowing fans in India with his exploits for the Delhu Capitals after getting his first taste of international cricket with the Australian team last summer. 

Smith has been struggling for runs in the T20 format over the past 12 months and he was probably only going to be a chance of making the squad as a reserve batter.

All-rounder Mitchell Marsh is set to be named captain after he shared the role with Pat Cummins and Matthew Wade in recent series. 

David Warner will make his farewell to international cricket at the tournament after already retiring from the Test and ODI arenas. 

Wade is expected to be picked as a keeping option alongside Josh Inglis with both players a chance of making the final XI on the strength of their batting. 

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Warner is likely to open with Travis Head with Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tim David, Cameron Green, Marcus Stoinis and the two keepers providing plenty of power hitting in the middle order.

Green is a contentious selection as he has not set the T20 world on fire despite occasional glimpses of his brilliance with the bat and ball while Stoinis has also been struggling for form at international level.

According to a NewsCorp report, left-arm spinner Ashton Agar will snare a spot as the back-up to Adam Zampa while white-ball specialist Nathan Ellis is set to tour as the extra seam-bowling option behind Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc.

The form of Starc is a cause for concern for the Australians. 

Starc has continued to leak runs at an extraordinary rate in the Indian Premier League, but at least got the better of Fraser-McGurk in an intriguing clash between the veteran seamer and young gun hitter.

The 22-year-old Victorian just about kept out the first two balls Starc bowled at him, scrambling singles off each.

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The next two balls he smashed the 34-year-old New South Welshman for six over wide long-on and four though backward point.

But the following ball he mis-hit to deep square leg where Venkatest Iyer took a fine low catch sending Fraser-McGurk packing for a seven-ball 12.

Aside from the satisfaction of being on the winning side it was rare moment of joy at Eden Gardens on Monday for Starc whose return to the IPL with Kolkata Knight Riders remains challenging.

Batting first Fraser-McGurk’s Delhi Capitals scratched their way to 9-153, No.9 Kuldeep Yadav top-scoring with an unbeaten 35. But Starc’s three overs went for 43. Given his first three legal deliveries, opening the bowling, went for 13, and the last two legal balls, bowled in the 16th over, went for 15 with five wides, it could have been a lot worse. 

However, he has now bowled 28 overs, taken seven wickets at 47.14 apiece and been hit for 330 runs – an economy rate of 11.78, or almost two runs per ball.

It is not the impact Kolkata Knight Riders anticipated when they signed Starc for $4.43 million to make him the competition’s most expensive player. 

Jake Fraser-McGurk of Australia bats during game three of the Men's One Day International match between Australia and West Indies at Manuka Oval on February 06, 2024 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Jake Fraser-McGurk of Australia bats during game three of the Men’s One Day International match between Australia and West Indies at Manuka Oval on February 06, 2024 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

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However, when he did not play in their last match due to a finger issue KKR conceded a record 2-262, losing with eight balls to spare, an even worse economy rate as England’s Jonny Bairstow hammered KKR’s other seamers around the park.

With Starc back in the side KKR returned to winning ways, easing to their victory target with seven wickets and 21 balls to spare, making 3-157 with England’s Phil Salt (68 off 33) leading the way.

The win moved KKR into second place on 12 points, four behind leaders Rajasthan Royals and two ahead of a pack of four teams on ten, including Capitals. The top four make the play-offs.

Likely Australian squad: Mitchell Marsh (c), Travis Head, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Tim David, Cameron Green, Marcus Stoinis, Josh Inglis, Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar, Adam Zampa, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Ellis.

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