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Australia challenged to 'find a way' to fit Tim David into the T20I side

Former Australia allrounder Shane Watson believes David has a "very rare" skill while Aaron Finch said his time will come

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
Tim David hits one straight during his 11-ball 34  •  BCCI

Tim David hits one straight during his 11-ball 34  •  BCCI

Australia are the current T20 World Cup champions and have not lost a T20I series this year. But less than 100 days out from their home title defence starting there is one major question hanging over their squad. How do they fit Tim David into a settled winning team?
David has represented Singapore, but is eligible and keen to play for Australia and has spoken with Australia's chairman of selectors George Bailey.
Former Australia allrounder Shane Watson, who was unveiled on Friday as the T20 World Cup trophy ambassador for the 2022 tournament in Australia, believes they have to find a way simply because David is an asset too valuable to ignore.
"I hadn't really seen much of him at all up until the IPL and seeing what he did there is something that I haven't seen for a long time," Watson said. "For a young guy coming in and just dominating and just hitting the ball like I haven't really seen in the past. So you just find a way.
"It's hard with Australia being the defending champions of the T20 World Cup. But with someone like that, the power that he has and the composure as well under pressure situations is something that's very, very rare."
Watson saw David up close while he was an assistant coach at Delhi Capitals in the recent IPL. He watched him smash 34 off 11 balls to help guide Mumbai Indians home against Capitals after they needed 65 off 31 at one stage. The result meant Capitals missed the playoffs.
David has continued his excellent form in the Vitality Blast in England for Lancashire to help them reach finals day. He has scored 387 runs at a strike-rate of 180 in 15 innings, with two stunning half-centuries. Only Alex Hales (193.78) and Rilee Roussouw (189.17) have higher strike-rates of those with more than 200 runs in the tournament, but both have batted exclusively in the top three while David has only twice batted higher than No. 5.
David was not considered for Australia's tour of Sri Lanka with the side selected prior to his run of form in the second half of the IPL. Australia captain Aaron Finch has been asked the question repeatedly about David over the last few months and believes his time is coming sooner rather than later.
"I think it's important that that time will come for Tim," Finch said. "He's such a valuable asset. Guys with that much power who can bowl a few overs, are good in the field, they will slot into a lot of T20 sides. So I think there's going to be opportunities there no doubt, especially with the amount of cricket that's going to be played over the next sort of three months until that World Cup starts."
Australia do not play another T20I until September when they will make a brief 10-day tour to India for a three-match series. Those games are wedged between six home ODIs against Zimbabwe and New Zealand, starting in late August, and five home T20Is against West Indies and England in early October, prior to the World Cup warm-up games ahead of the tournament.
David's chance might come on that trip to India as Australia's only three-format batters, David Warner and Steven Smith, could well be rested given the India series will be played in foreign conditions to the World Cup and both will have huge Test workloads following the tournament.
World Cup squads will probably need to be named by mid-September, so Australia may need to make an early call, although there is often room for late changes. The other quirk around David is that he is on the edge of the Australian system without a state contract and has been confirmed in the CPL for St Lucia Kings, with that tournament running through September, although it is likely he would forgo that deal should an international call-up emerge.
David did have a rookie contract with Western Australia for one season in 2018-19 and played one Marsh Cup game for Tasmania last season without a contract. Watson has publicly raised some valid questions about the potential negative flow-on effects of picking a player like David for Australia from outside the state system.
But Cricket Australia's high-performance team does not see it as an issue at the moment and is looking at ways to contract T20 specialists in the future without forcing them to forgo franchise cricket to remain tied to the domestic system. David is the latest case study but Dan Christian and AJ Tye have both been picked for Australia's T20I side in recent years without a state contract.
Smith appears the most vulnerable in Australia's settled line-up. He did make 37 not out off 27 balls in Australia's last T20I against Sri Lanka in Pallekele but it was the first time he had struck at over 135 in 12 T20I innings dating back to September 2020. But Australia's hierarchy have a lot of faith in his T20 ability and believe he will be of value in Australian conditions.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo