Australia have named a 21-man squad for their T20I and ODI tour of England. While the enlarged party, due to the nature of the biosecure tour, means there are players involved who wouldn't normally have been picked, there are still some interesting aspects to look at and clues to where the selectors are heading.
Another blow for Khawaja
Usman Khawaja has not played for Australia since the unforgettable Headingley Test in the Ashes and six weeks before that his World Cup campaign had been ended by a hamstring injury. His six-month ODI run from January 2019 to the World Cup brought 1085 runs at 49.31. Being named in the preliminary 26-man squad for the England tour showed he remained in the selectors' thinking, but he was one of five players not to make the final cut. He will be nearly 37 by the time of the next ODI World Cup, and there is a squeeze for top-order batting spots, so his one-day career would appear to be over.
A Short recall
The last time Australia played, in the behind-closed-doors ODI at the SCG in March, D'Arcy Short batted at No. 4 and two games before that had scored 69 in the middle order against South Africa. Now he doesn't make a 21-man squad which also plays three T20Is - the format considered Short's best after prolific Big Bash returns. The reasoning was that Short, who also bowls very handy left-arm wristspin, was essentially the replacement for Glenn Maxwell who is now available again but he can probably feel a bit hard done by.
Since the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa, Australia have employed two vice-captains in their various squads but for this tour, they have reverted to the traditional one and it puts Pat Cummins as Aaron Finch's next-in-charge. National selector Trevor Hohns and head of national teams Ben Oliver said it should not be taken as direct succession planning, but the fact is Cummins is now an injury away from captaining Australia. In this case, it is Alex Carey who has lost his official tag. It remains to be seen what happens when Australia's next Test squad is named and if Cummins would appear in pole position for that as well.
No state, but a country
Andrew Tye was part of Australia's T20I squad against Sri Lanka at the beginning of last season, injured himself in training, was ruled out of the series and hasn't played any cricket since. In June he lost his state contract although that wasn't a huge surprise with Western Australia wanting to bolster their red-ball options. And Tye was already close to being a T20 freelancer. Now, with two T20 World Cups to plan for in two years, the selectors have shown he remains in their thoughts.
Glimpse at the future
Josh Philippe and Riley Meredith are two of the most exciting young players in Australia, while Daniel Sams is starting to bloom a little later in his career after a standout Big Bash campaign for the Sydney Thunder. All three are now well placed to push their names further into contention for the 2021 T20 World Cup - it is their BBL form that has largely earned them selection at this point. Philippe was Man of the Match for the Sydney Sixers in the BBL final while Meredith has bowled spells of eye-catching pace for the Hobart Hurricanes. Sams, meanwhile, brings his left-arm angle on the back of a BBL that brought him 30 wickets.
Back in the fold
Maxwell stepped away from the game to manage his mental health early last season and was then ruled out of the South Africa tour due to needing elbow surgery. His return to the T20I line-up would add an X-factor to the middle order and another valuable bowling option. He will be looking to regain his ODI place, too, after a disappointing World Cup. Marcus Stoinis, who had signed a deal in the CPL shortly before this tour came into view, hasn't featured at all since that tournament and may not have been in a traditional-sized squad despite a prolific 2019-2020 BBL where he scored 705 runs with a best of 147 not out.
Lyon and the white ball
The restrictions of the tour mean there are more reserve players than would normally be the case and Nathan Lyon is another one of those as understudy to the spin incumbents Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar. In one of his stop-start incarnations in the ODI set-up, Lyon was part of the World Cup squad but was hammered out of the equation by England in the semi-final. Yet with two of the next three World Cups in India, you probably can't rule out him getting another chance. Being named in the squad for this tour shows his limited-overs credentials remain well regarded.