Steve Smith and David Warner will return to the international fold as defending champions Australia announced their 15-man World Cup squad early this morning (15 April). The duo was part of Australia's victorious campaign in 2015, and was all but certain to feature in the 2019 edition until they got embroiled in the infamous Sandpapergate in South Africa last year. Their selection means they could play their first international match since that ill-fated Cape Town Test on 1 June when Australia take on Afghanistan in Bristol in their World Cup opener.
Having served their resultant one-year bans, Warner and Smith are trying to get back in the groove at the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL). While Warner has been in scorching form for Sunrisers Hyderabad, Smith is still feeling his way to form at Rajasthan Royals. The top-order pair will also return to the Cricket Australia central contract list for 2019-2020.
Their inclusion, though, means that Peter Handscomb, surprisingly, misses out on a World Cup berth. A top-order batsman who can also double up as a back-up wicketkeeper, Handscomb's good recent form had made him a strong contender in the Australia line-up. Handscomb has played each of Australia's last 13 matches, making a century and three half-centuries, averaging 43.54 and boasting of a strike rate of 98.15. His 117-run innings in Mohali was pivotal in Australia chasing down 359 against India, their highest chase in ODI history.
Another notable absentee is fast bowler Josh Hazlewood, who has been sidelined with a back injury since January. Mitchell Starc, who has not featured in any of Australia's last 13 ODIs, will lead their pace attack. Pat Cummins, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jason Behrendorff complete the five-men pace attack.
Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said Starc and Richardson have been selected subject to fitness. Squads can be changed until 23 May without ICC permission.
"Given the depth of talent and competition for spots there were a number of tough calls we had to make to settle on our squad of 15," Hohns said. "Unfortunately, from the recent squad which toured India and the UAE, Peter Handscomb, Ashton Turner and Kane Richardson have made way for the above inclusions, but all three have been included in Australia A squad for the tour of England."
Alex Carey is the sole wicketkeeper in the squad, while leg-spinner Adam Zampa and off-spinner Nathan Lyon are the two spinners in the squad.
Squad: Aaron Finch (capt), David Warner, Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Adam Zampa, Nathan Lyon