Cricket Australia has announced the squads for the upcoming limited overs tour of India beginning on 17 September. The national selectors have picked squads packed with all-rounders and plenty of hard hitting batsmen to make the most of the flat pitches and smaller grounds they will encounter in India. The tour will feature five ODIs and three T20Is, with the Australians naming 14 and 13 man squads respectively.
While the tourists will be without pace spearhead Mitchell Starc who is yet to recover from surgery on his right foot, they have selected Pat Cummins and recalled injury prone West Australian quick Nathan Coulter-Nile to add raw pace to the line-up. Coulter-Nile has been struck down by multiple injuries in recent years which have restricted his opportunities at the highest level. However his ability to swing the ball at high pace and be a genuine wicket taker both up front with the new ball, as well as at the death will be crucial for Australia’s success. His experience and performances for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League may have been a factor in his recall to the Australian side.
Coulter-Nile has been selected in both squads but joining him in the T20 squad is his West Australian and Perth Scorchers teammate Jason Behrendorff. The left-arm quick has been one of the best performers in the Big Bash League and has played a huge role in the Scorchers' success. He has the ability to swing the ball and generate bounce at good pace but he will be tested on the slow and flat surfaces in India.
Starc isn’t the only big name missing through injury, with the big hitting Chris Lynn, all-rounder John Hastings and fiery quick James Pattinson also unavailable for selection. New South Wales all-rounder Moises Henriques has been left out of the one day after an underwhelming Champions Trophy tournament and this has opened the door for James Faulkner to return to the ODI fold for his country.
Faulkner was man of the match in Australia’s victorious 2015 World Cup final against New Zealand but then lost his place in the national side ahead of their failed 2017 Champions Trophy campaign. The left-arm seamer's variation and changes of pace will be useful in India and his previous success in the country should give him confidence ahead of what will be a tough and hard-fought series.
The surfaces for limited overs cricket in India tend to be flatter than the ones used for Test cricket, and offer less assistance to the spinners. With this in mind Australia have opted to select young leg-spinner Adam Zampa as the only front line tweaker in both squads. In the 50-over format his support will have to come from off-spinning all-rounders Travis Head and Glenn Maxwell, as well as left-arm orthodox bowler Ashton Agar – another promising young all-rounder in the Australia squad. Maxwell and Head will also support Zampa in the shortest format.
The Australians preference for all-rounders in white-ball cricket is once again apparent with Agar, Head, Maxwell and Faulkner joined by Marcus Stoinis and newcomer Hilton Cartwright in the squad for the ODI leg of the tour while veteran Dan Christian and Henriques replace Agar, Faulkner and Stoinis for the T20 leg. Cartwright finds himself in the squad on the back of strong performances in domestic cricket and the Zimbabwe-born all-rounder made his Test debut against South Africa during Australia’s 1-2 series loss in 2016-17. Every all-rounder in the Australian squad possesses the ability to clear the boundary, an important skill in white ball cricket in India, with the likes of Cartwright, Stoinis, Maxwell and Christian being particularly destructive hitters of a cricket ball.
Steve Smith will be hoping his battery of all-rounders will help provide balance to his side and allow him the luxury of potentially six or seven bowling options in both the ODIs and T20Is. With only a few frontline fast bowlers in each squad, Smith will be relying on his all-rounders, both pace and spin, to toil hard and restrict India’s batsmen on high scoring grounds.
Josh Hazlewood will once again lead Australia’s ODI attack, with speedsters Coulter-Nile and Cummins for support, but he has been rested from the T20 matches which grants an opportunity to South Australian fast bowler Kane Richardson.
Mathew Wade retains his spot as Australia’s first choice gloveman in 50-over cricket but the Victorian has been left out of the 20-over side for Tim Paine. After a good run in recent Big Bash tournaments and a strong showing in the home T20I series against Sri Lanka, Paine has been given another opportunity to impress at the highest level.
Both squads are full of all-round talent, and once again follow the Australian cricketing principles of athleticism, power, and pace in the bowling department. With the likes of Smith, David Warner and Aaron Finch being supported by a plethora of powerful all-rounders it appears the Australians are expecting high scoring games and have packed their squads with plenty of rope-clearing potential.
With the Champions Trophy done and dusted all countries have now turned their focus to the 2019 World Cup in England, and with the showpiece tournament in mind there are no surprises Australia have added some youth to their squad, while also providing second chances and further opportunities to some more senior players. The likes of Coulter-Nile, Agar, Richardson and Cartwright will be hoping they can show their wares in India and cement their spots for future white ball assignments in Australian colours.