AUSSIES UNLEASH STARS ON THE IRISH
THERE is nothing low-key about the launch of the Steve Smith era, with Australia selecting a full-strength XI to take on Ireland in Belfast for the captain’s first outing.
Selectors have resisted the temptation to rest Ashes players Mitchell Starc, David Warner and Mitchell Marsh and have elected to hit the ground running in their seven-game limited overs campaign.
It is a strong message from the World Cup champions that they will not take their foot off the pedal.
Australia will take on the ODI minnows with eight members from that Cup squad.
Smith gave his first address to the Australian team since taking over as fulltime skipper.
Spinner Ashton Agar (pictured) is back in the fold after his stunning Test debut in the Ashes two years ago, however the golden child of Australian cricket will have to wait to get his first opportunity – with Australia to take on the Irish using Glenn Maxwell as their slow bowler.
Shane Watson is back in the international fold after being dropped during the Ashes, and George Bailey is also reinstated at No.4, after missing most of the World Cup when Michael Clarke returned from injury.
Joe Burns will make his ODI debut in a strong pointer that he will be part of the new era of the Test team as well, when the team tours Bangladesh in October.
Players clapped Burns in the team huddle at their Wednesday training session in Belfast.
Another person in that boat is Agar, who selectors have anointed as the No.2 spinner in the country.
Provided the 21-year-old performs well when given his chance in the one-dayers he will be on a plane to Bangladesh.
Smith admits 50-over form will have a major influence on the team’s immediate Test future.
“I guess it’s a new era in a way for Australian cricket,” Smith said.