Smith, Warner return to Australia squad for Sri Lanka, Pakistan T20Is

With an eye on the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup at home next year, Australia have announced a 14-man T20 squad to face Sri Lanka and Pakistan across six games this year.

Steve Smith, the Player of the Series in the 2019 Ashes, returns to their T20 unit after more than three years. While the 30-year-old has superb numbers in Test and one-day international cricket, he will want to improve on his returns in the T20Is: 431 runs at 21.55 in 30 games.

Apart from Smith, opener David Warner and left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc have also been included in the squad, while top-order batsman Usman Khawaja has been left out. “It is almost a year to the day until Australia hosts the men’s Twenty20 World Cup and we have selected this squad with that in mind,” said Australia National Selector Trevor Hohns on Tuesday, 8 October.

“We have looked to put a squad together that we think can take us through to that tournament. The squad we have selected is quite role-specific and we believe it gives us the flexibility to thrive in all match conditions.”

Marcus Stoinis, Shaun Marsh, D’Arcy Short, Jhye Richardson, Peter Handscomb, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Nathan Lyon, all of whom were a part of the T20I series against India earlier this year, have been left out. Meanwhile, fast bowler Jason Behrendorff has opted to undergo spinal surgery for his recurring lower-back injury.

While many players have been left out, impressive domestic performers like Billy Stanlake, Ben McDermott and Kane Richardson have been brought back in the squad. Stanlake has picked up five wickets in the Australian domestic one-day cup this year, including figures of 3/38 against South Australia last month. Richardson, too, has been among the wickets, returning six wickets across four games in the competition so far.

McDermott, meanwhile, has impressed with the bat for Tasmania, and recently smashed an unbeaten century against South Australia in Perth.

“In terms of batsmen, we have selected top and middle-order specialists. The likes of Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Ashton Turner and Carey provide us excellent options through the middle-order after Finch, Warner and Smith,” said Hohns.

Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Billy Stanlake, Mitchell Starc, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, David Warner, Adam Zampa