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August 16, 2012
Cameron White's return to the Australia team can be likened to that of the ageless Brad Hogg - a nod to experience over youth and to suitability for a very specific task, the wresting of the World Twenty20 title in Sri Lanka in September.
Not given to euphemism or evasion when he speaks publicly about the composition of his teams, the national selector John Inverarity said candidly that White had beaten the young New South Wales allrounder Steve Smith for what was most likely the final place in the squad. He cited White's greater experience - and recent strong touch - as the major reasons.
"I'd say Steve Smith was on the cusp. In the end, Cameron White was preferred to Steve because of Cameron's very good form in the IPL and then again he played for Northants in England and he had some very good innings there," Inverarity said in Perth. "He's in very good form. When he's at his best, he's a very destructive player. He's in good nick at the moment and we're really hoping he'll perform.
"I think Cameron came back into the squad because we thought in a pressure situation with his experience, he might be better than the younger ones. So that was a factor there but generally we've just looked for the best balanced side and the best cricketers."
It was only last summer that White lost his captaincy of the T20 team and his place in the squad altogether, towards the end of a prolonged run of poor batting form and scarcely any bowling. His role in Sri Lanka appears likely to be lower down the order than in the past, providing late innings fireworks and the occasional spell of his flat wrist-spin on the expected low, slow surfaces.
"It's up to George Bailey, the captain, to work out the batting order but I think it's likely to be Matthew Wade probably at six, could well be Cameron White at seven and then either Glenn Maxwell or Dan Christian at eight," Inverarity said. "So there's a lot of depth and there's three left-handers in the top seven so the left-right combination which makes it more difficult for the opposing bowlers.
"There's a lot of potential there. In any form of cricket whether it's Test or T20, wickets in hand is always a good thing so you've just got to get that judgment right. Cameron in the games up in Darwin also bowled well and got some wickets up there. He's just a little bit like [Shahid] Afridi with the spinners that don't turn a lot but are often quite difficult to get away. He could be handy."
Inverarity made it patently clear in announcing his squad for the tournament that there was no real emphasis on the future in this squad. It is a 15-man group compiled entirely to claim the trophy, and to defy Australia's lowly ninth ranking in T20 internationals. There will be a contrast, Inverarity noted, with the teams to be chosen for ODI cricket later on, as the panel continues to assess its options for that format's 2015 World Cup.
"This is a marquee series," Inverarity said. "It is the World Cup, the ICC World T20, so we just picked the best players we could who we think are going to perform best. It will probably be during the ODI games during the Australian summer we'll be looking more to the future, but in this squad we're just looking at the next month.
"Twenty20 cricket is very unpredictable. It really is. If you had a Wimbledon final and instead of the best of five sets, the best of three, I mean it's just a reduced package. So yeah, I think we've got a very good squad, and a very versatile squad. A lot of bowling and a lot of batting, there's a lot of strike power there. So we've got a good chance. Anything could happen, they're prepared and certainly giving it their very best."
As for Hogg, Inverarity said he presented an irresistible case for selection during last summer's BBL and had subsequently backed it up by training and testing very well in comparison to his younger fellow squad members.
"Hogg's done so well. I saw him in the Big Bash last year and he's very fit, he's in really good shape and full of enthusiasm as he always is," Inverarity said. "So we're hoping he does really well. He's continued to do well since the Big Bash League in the IPL in the other T20 leagues around the world, he's done very well.
"He doesn't [look like slowing down]. Not with his enthusiasm, he's very fit. A lot of testing goes on and he comes out pretty well."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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