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Opportunity knocks for late T20 World Cup bid amid Australia's mass tour absences

Good performances in West Indies and Bangladesh could yet make the selectors change their plans

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
There is no guarantee from Australia's selectors that all the players who made themselves unavailable for tours of West Indies and Bangladesh will immediately return to the fold for the T20 World Cup if others take the chance to impress in their place.
David Warner, Pat Cummins, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis withdrew from contention for the upcoming tours for a variety of personal reasons while Daniel Sams, who contracted Covid-19 in India before the IPL, had previously opted out to manage his mental health.
Trevor Hohns, the national selector, reiterated that individual player circumstances were understood and respected at a time where international cricket requires bubbles and quarantine but admitted it was "frustrating" not to be able to have a full squad together with the World Cup four months away.
"We are obviously disappointed that they made themselves unavailable, but we totally understand and respect their decision," Hohns said. "In saying that we also see it as a good opportunity for others who have been included to push their case for inclusion in the T20 World Cup squad. I also see it as a good test of our depth.
"If a player wishes to make himself unavailable that's his prerogative to do so, we can't force them to go on a tour but what we can say is that they are giving someone else an opportunity."
Australia's final lead-in to the T20 World Cup, which is scheduled to start in mid-October and may yet be moved to the UAE, remains uncertain but there had been plans for a tri-series which would likely clash with the resumption of the IPL. Detailed conversations have yet to take place, but Hohns laid out his expectation of the players' priorities.
"It will certainly depend on their commitments and what we think they should be committing to regarding Australia at that time," he said.
The mass absence has meant recalls for Ben McDermott, Ashton Turner and Dan Christian plus a maiden call-up for Wes Agar. There is also another opportunity for others who were part of the T20 squad in New Zealand such as Josh Philippe and Riley Meredith.
Australia's T20 selection has been disrupted since the start of the last home season due to a combination of biosecure bubble requirements, injuries, resting players, the initial plan for twin tours of South Africa and New Zealand and now the latest withdrawals.
However, Hohns said the selectors had most of a likely World Cup squad inked in a few months ago but, while some of those missing will walk straight back in, strong performances in the coming weeks may sway other positions. There is also a likelihood that squads will need to be larger than the traditional 15.
"That'll be an interesting discussion for us going forward, there's no doubt about that, depending on performances in West Indies particularly by the extra inclusions for this tour," he said. "So if someone was to really shoot the lights out with bat or ball we'd have to stand up and take notice."
One player not considered for the tour despite the number of missing names was Marnus Labuschagne with the decision taken to allow him to continue his Glamorgan contract. A key part of that was the chance to play a significant amount of T20 cricket rather than being sat on the sidelines on the tour where he may only have featured in the ODIs. He has enjoyed an eye-catching start to the T20 Blast with three consecutive half-centuries, one of which was an unbeaten 93, and handy wickets.
"Marnus went over some time ago to play county cricket and he also has the opportunity to play a lot of T20 cricket which is something he expressed to us that he would really like to do," Hohns said. "He was totally involved in this decision, he thought it was in his best interest to continue to play cricket in England. We are certainly watching his performances in the T20 competition so that's not gone unnoticed."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo