Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
Australia's planning for the 2021 T20 World Cup has been significantly disrupted by tour pullouts but captain Aaron Finch is maintaining his focus - in more ways than one.
Finch underwent surgery on his left eye after the tour of New Zealand in March - which was the last time he played - and is hopeful of seeing a positive impact on the upcoming trip to the West Indies and yet-to-be-confirmed assignment against Bangladesh.
Finch revealed that he had first suffered from blurred vision during last year's IPL, where he started to suffer a lean run of form that briefly lifted in the ODIs against India with 249 runs in three innings before he endured a lean BBL. He finished the series in New Zealand strongly but when the use of contact lenses didn't work he opted for surgery from which he believes he has already felt the benefits.
"I'm seeing them pretty good," he said in Brisbane ahead of the squad's chartered flight to the Caribbean on Monday. "I've only been hitting indoors on hard wickets, so [I] think the big test will come in night matches, that's when I noticed the biggest difference in my eyesight.
"It was just bloody blurry which isn't ideal as a batsman. One day it just sort of changed and got a little bit worse. It wasn't very sharp and there was bit of a halo around lights and a bit of a trail on the ball, so just a bit unusual. After New Zealand we thought that was the best time to get it done. Was about a three-week process and it was really smooth. It's all clear now, so seems really good."
As in New Zealand, Finch will have a squad stripped of some key players due to a combination of resting, opt-outs and Steven Smith's elbow injury. It was a long-term plan for David Warner and Pat Cummins to miss the tour, but Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson and Jhye Richardson made themselves unavailable.
That has led to recalls for Ben McDermott, Ashton Turner and Dan Christian along with a maiden call-up for pace bowler Wes Agar.
Finch reiterated the view of national selector Trevor Hohns that significant weight will be put behind performances over these two tours when it comes to the final selection of the T20 World Cup squad which means there may not be a certain path back for all the absentees.
"Playing cricket for Australia and doing well is the ultimate, in my opinion," he said. "So for guys to be on this tour to get the first opportunity to put their hand up and take that spot is what it's about. It's tough to ignore really good international performances.
"You have to go on current form. These conditions will be very similar to what we face in the T20 World Cup I imagine - especially St Lucia being used quite a lot and then Bangladesh being quite similar to India or UAE, wherever that lands."
There is now a good chance that Australia's squad for the T20 World Cup, slated to be hosted in India in October-November, could look significantly different to what was originally envisaged. Hohns indicated last week that the selectors had been close to locking in the final group but along with the latest withdrawals, Finch said that the team that strung together nine wins in 11 matches during 2019 and early 2020 had been put together with an Australia-based tournament in mind before the pandemic forced a switch.
"It could change a lot. That was based on the World Cup being in Australia and I thought our side in the lead-up to the original World Cup meant to be held here was really settled. You have to look to keep restructuring your side to gather more information. The more the wickets change and the more they go away from our traditional Australian wickets think the more we have to keep learning."
The West Indies tour includes five T20Is which will be played in St Lucia before three ODIs - which carry World Cup Super League points - in Barbados. The squad is then due to head directly to Bangladesh for five T20Is in early August if that leg gets the biosecure plans signed off.