Dilemmas for T20 selectors as newbies stake their claim

Ben McKay |

Matt Short has been a T20 standout for Australia in recent series.
Matt Short has been a T20 standout for Australia in recent series.

Matthew Wade has backed in bolter Matt Short to make Australia’s Twenty20 World Cup squad, but says a tough road lies ahead for veteran Steve Smith.

Australia wrapped up a fortnight of T20s on Sunday – winning the away series with New Zealand after home success against West Indies – making the picture a little clearer for George Bailey and his selectors.

The red-hot form of recent call-ups makes for plenty of competition for places in the World Cup squad.

“It’s going to be tight for those last few spots. I don’t envy George’s position. I wouldn’t want to be picking the 15,” wicketkeeper-batter Wade said.

More than 20 players have represented Australia in T20 cricket since November, including in a series in India straight after the one-day World Cup.

Short’s latest effort, 27 runs in 11 balls, won him player of the match at Auckland’s Eden Park on Sunday.

“We know he can come in and play a really high-impact role for us, and his offspin is going to help as well,” Wade said.

“He’ll be pushing for a spot in the 15,” Wade said.

“Spence (Spencer Johnson) has played a couple of games now and ticked every box.

“Then you’ve got guys like Nathan (Ellis) who come in and every time he gets an opportunity, he does really, really well.

“It’s going to be tight for those last few spots … but we’re happy that we’ve got so much depth.”

Steve Smith.
Long-serving Steve Smith faces an uphill battle to be at his fourth T20 World Cup with Australia. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

The emergence of Short, in particular, could spell trouble for Smith, who failed twice in New Zealand while hoping to stake his claim to play at a fourth T20 World Cup.

Short offers versatility across the batting order, as well as a spinning option that could prove valuable on the expected turning pitches in the Caribbean.

On current form, there are 13 places locked down in Australia’s 15-man squad, barring injury.

They are the 11 who started Wednesday’s T20 in Wellington, in which Australia chased down New Zealand’s 215 with a last-ball boundary from Tim David.

That would mean a first World Cup for Singapore-born finisher David, as well as Josh Inglis, who can bat across the top seven and also keep.

Add Marcus Stoinis, who missed the series injured, and Wade – who delayed his involvement to be at the birth of his son – and you arrive at 13 players.

Selectors rate Ellis highly as they consider backup pace, with left-arm quick Johnson also impressing.

Ellis and Johnson will also be able to stake their claim via the Indian Premier League from next month, among 16 Australians in the mega-money competition.

Others hoping to make the squad, including Aaron Hardie, Ben McDermott, and Smith, won’t be in India.

“Smitty hasn’t played a heap of T20 cricket in the last little bit for Australia,” Wade said of Smith.

“Fingers crossed he makes it but there’s there’s always going to be someone that’s unlucky.”

Matthew Wade bats against West Indies in Hobart.
Matthew Wade believes he has done enough to be on the plane for the T20 World Cup. (Linda Higginson/AAP PHOTOS)

As for his own claims to a place as first-choice wicketkeeper, Wade believes he’s done enough.

“If you look at my last three years, especially since the ’21 World Cup, my numbers speak for themselves in that role at seven and finishing,” he said.

“I want to be playing. I want to be starting … I know what it takes to win a World Cup.”

PREDICTED WORLD CUP SQUAD

David Warner, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Tim David, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood. Subs: Nathan Ellis, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Matt Short.

AAP