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Pat Cummins rested for Sri Lanka T20Is; big guns return for white-ball leg

Adam Zampa on paternity leave; Sangha, Murphy, Kuhnemann in Australia A squad for four matches on tour

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
Pat Cummins appeals against Babar Azam, Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test, Karachi, March 16, 2022

Pat Cummins led Australia to a 1-0 Test series win in Pakistan  •  AFP/Getty Images

Australia have named four squads - including an Australia A team - to tour Sri Lanka in June, with Test captain Pat Cummins rested from the T20Is, as legspinner Adam Zampa is set to miss the tour due to the birth of his first child.
The visitors play three T20Is, five ODIs and two Tests in Sri Lanka in June and July, and have added an A tour too, with Australia A set to play two 50-over matches in Colombo and two four-day games in Hambantota while the senior team simultaneously engages in the T20I and ODI series.
The same A squad has been selected for both formats, with no captain named for either format yet. Australia's chairman of selectors George Bailey was pleased to name near full-strength squads for the T20Is and ODIs, as Australia continue to build towards the T20 World Cup and the 50-over World Cup next year in India.
"These are very targeted to skill sets, and what we see as the bulk of the squad for the home T20 World Cup and looking further forward to the ODI World Cup," Bailey said.
"We were able to continue to build our depth with great white ball performances in Pakistan on the back of a superb Test Series. As selectors this has been one of the most rewarding parts amid the challenges of the past few years."
There were no shocks in the Test squad, with a virtually unchanged group named from the one that beat Pakistan 1-0 in March. Marcus Harris and Mark Steketee were the only players missing, although both have been named in the Australia A squad. The Test squad has been reduced to just 16 players with Australia looking to move beyond the Covid era of enlarged squads. Bailey said there was the opportunity to hopefully bring players in at short notice where needed.
"We have the ability to do that on an as-needed basis as opposed to trying to sort of crystal ball what you might need and announcing a squad of 20 which we've had to live last couple of years so I think that's that's great for all the players," Bailey said.
Australia were almost back to full strength in the T20I squad, as they ramp up preparation for the T20 World Cup title defence later this year at home.
Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade, Steven Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Jhye Richardson and Kane Richardson all missed the white-ball series in Pakistan, but have returned for the Sri Lanka tour, with Wade, Jhye Richardson and Kane Richardson picked only for the T20Is.
Ben McDermott's absence from all four squads is the only surprise following his performances in the ODI series against Pakistan where he made his maiden ODI century and a half-century in the three-match series.
But the return of Warner, Maxwell, Marsh and Smith has created a squeeze for spots, with Travis Head retaining his place after a phenomenal return to limited-overs cricket in Pakistan.
The Australia A squad has also been selected with a primary focus on red-ball cricket, with McDermott behind the likes of Peter Handscomb, Matt Renshaw and Nic Maddinson in the red-ball batting stakes.
"Really happy with what he did on the Pakistan tour, he's just been squeezed out of the Australian squads given the return of the number of players in the roles that he was playing," Bailey said. "And the Australia A tour the focus on that is the two red-ball games. The two one-dayers were added a little bit late, later than then as we were planning, and we didn't really want to change our focus and split that squad.
"He's just behind a couple of those others that are in that squad at the moment. But again, really happy with what he did in Pakistan. As we've said to him over the last couple of days, he's enhanced his reputation. Now it's just about getting another opportunity."
Fast bowler Michael Neser is another who has slipped down the pecking order after his debut in Adelaide during the Ashes. He too is not in any of the four squads, after missing the Pakistan tour due to injury. But Bailey was happy for him to remain with Glamorgan in county cricket with an eye towards next year's Ashes.
The A squad features some new names, with the selectors keen to trial a trio of young spinners in Tanveer Sangha, Todd Murphy and Matthew Kuhnemann with an eye to the future beyond offspinner Nathan Lyon, who turns 35 later this year.
Western Australia allrounder Aaron Hardie has been rewarded with a berth in his first Australia A squad following his stunning performance in the recent Sheffield Shield final, where he took 3 for 54 and made 174*. Overall in the 2021-22 Shield season, he hit 238 runs at an average of 119, besides taking ten wickets at 14.
Bailey also noted the Australia A tour gives the squads an enormous amount of flexibility, with players likely to cross over between squads where needed. Josh Inglis, Jhye Richardson, Sean Abbott, Scott Boland and Head have all been named in the A squad as well, while also being part of the main squad.
"There are several players returning to respective squads combined with an Australia A tour running in parallel to the white-ball series," Bailey said.
"It's incredibly exciting to have an Australia A component which offers further flexibility and opportunity for players to be available for and cross over into all squads. That could be from a Test or white-ball preparation perspective or an opportunity to impress at an international level.
"Those factors, coupled with what we expect to be more freedom of travel, means we can be very specific with our structures while continuing to develop the next generation of players. This is the first time a tour of this scale has been possible since the Ashes in 2019."
Australia T20I squad: Aaron Finch (capt), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis (wk), Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner, Matthew Wade (wk)
Australia ODI squad: Aaron Finch (capt), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis (wk), Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (capt), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis (wk), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Steven Smith (vice-capt), Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
Australia A squad: Sean Abbott, Scott Boland, Peter Handscomb, Aaron Hardie, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Henry Hunt, Josh Inglis, Matthew Kuhnemann, Nic Maddinson, Todd Murphy, Josh Philippe, Matt Renshaw, Jhye Richardson, Tanveer Sangha, Mark Steketee

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo