Australia have pruned down their initial preliminary squad for the upcoming West Indies and Bangladesh white-ball tours down to 18 men after confirming that seven of their top stars will not be part of the touring party. Steve Smith, David Warner, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Jhye Richardson and Kane Richardson have all pulled out of the tours.
Smith is the only injury withdrawal who has complained of an elbow issue while the rest have requested to be not considered for “various reasons".
“We are naturally disappointed not to have all players available for the Australian team at this time however the NSP (National Selection Panel) respects the decisions of those who have opted out of this tour," head selector Trevor Hohns said in a statement.
“Steve Smith was unavailable for selection due to an elbow injury and will now be able to use this time to fully recover ahead of the World Cup and home Ashes series. Steve was disappointed to miss the tour with the decision made on medical grounds," he added.
Of the preliminary 29-man squad, nine players are missing including the seven aforementioned. D’Arcy Short and Cameron Green are the other two.
Australia will be in West Indies for five T20Is and three ODIs and in Bangladesh for a likely five-match T20I series.
While the squad does appear a depleted look, it also means an opportunity for the fringe players to prove their credentials with T20 World Cup set to be played later this year in India.
“International tours in the time of COVID-19 undoubtedly present many additional challenges for athletes," Hohns said. “They also present opportunities for others and, in this case, the chance to push for selection in the Australian men’s T20 World Cup squad later this year and beyond."
“This is a great chance for these players to make a case for the World Cup and all are considered very real prospects of making that tournament by performing well across these tours," he added.
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (captain), Ashton Agar, Wes Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Dan Christian, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
Reserves: Nathan Ellils, Tanveer Sangha.