The Chronicle

Players missing lead-ups to T20


NINE Australia-based members of the country’s 15-man T20 World Cup squad will fly to the United Arab Emirates on Thursday at varied levels of readiness for a tournament the team has never won, with some having not played a match since April.

As Australia looks to secure its first ever T20 World Cup, only two of the five Australian­s at the Indian Premier League are currently active just 18 days out from the start of the tournament.

The rest have been left to countless net sessions amid a domestic cricket landscape that has conspired to deprive players including Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc of crucial game time.

Glenn Maxwell and Josh Hazlewood have been in sparkling form for their respective IPL franchises in the UAE, and all-rounder Marcus Stoinis is expected to return to action for the finals after injuring his hamstring in his first game.

But David Warner has faced just six deliveries in match play in since April and Steve Smith has batted just twice since May after being dropped again by his IPL team for a game on Monday night.

In Australia, captain Aaron Finch finally got back in the nets last week after having knee surgery, while pace spearhead Cummins, who is expected to leave later than his teammates for the UAE due to the birth of his first child, has only bowled to his NSW teammates for the best part of four months.

His fast bowling partner Mitchell Starc, who played nine matches on the white-ball tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh in July and August, has been preparing in Queensland with the Australian women’s team.

All-rounder Daniel Sams, who tested positive to Covid-19 earlier this year, is in the same boat and will hit the World Cup having played just five games since February.

The scramble to get any domestic cricket amid border closures and the cancellati­on of last week’s matches between Tasmania and Queensland cost World Cup-bound Matthew Wade and spinner Mitchell Swepson crucial game time last week.

South Australian seamer Kane Richardson, who opted out of tours of the Windies and Bangladesh, and the IPL, as well as WA-based Mitchell Marsh, Ashton Agar and Josh Inglis, have at least played the only two completed domestic games this summer.

NSW cricket director Michael Klinger also revealed on Tuesday spinner Adam Zampa, who also opted out of the IPL restart, had been training in Byron Bay to prepare for the tournament.

Having seen Cummins and Sams up close, he was adamant the lack of games wouldn’t harm their World Cup readiness.

“They have been training regularly with the state squad, working mainly on their white-ball stuff,” Klinger said.

“They have been able to train fully and are fully prepared for the T20 World Cup.”

Australia will play two World Cup warm-up games, against New Zealand and India.

But that limited preparatio­n of close to 90 per cent of the squad stands in contrast to the likes of India, with every squad member in action in the IPL.

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