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Fraser-McGurk and Smith left out of Australia's T20 World Cup squad, Marsh to captain

Cameron Green, Ashton Agar and Nathan Ellis all included as Australia's selectors wanted flexibility within the 15-member squad

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
01-May-2024
Australia's brightest young T20 batting talent Jake Fraser-McGurk and one of their finest three-format batters of the generation Steven Smith have both been left out of Australia's provisional 15-member T20 World Cup squad with selectors opting to take a second specialist spinner in Ashton Agar and a spare allrounder in Cameron Green to give them more flexibility throughout the tournament.
As expected, Mitchell Marsh will captain the side after Cricket Australia ratified his position as permanent T20 captain on Wednesday morning. Marsh had already led Australia in three T20I series as interim skipper over the past 12 months.
Nathan Ellis has also been included as the fourth fast bowling option behind Australia's big three Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, and Mitchell Starc, while Josh Inglis was also selected as the reserve wicketkeeper and utility batter behind first-choice keeper Matthew Wade.
The omission of Fraser-McGurk is set to cause a stir in Australia after his stunning performances in the IPL where he has smashed three half-centuries in six innings at a ridiculous strike-rate of 233.33 despite the fact he has yet to play a T20I and has only made two ODI appearances.
Smith's omission is less of a shock despite being left out of a World Cup squad for the first time in a decade in any format. But Smith had long been on the outer in Australia's first-choice T20I side having run the drinks through most of the 2022 World Cup. He was given a chance to open in two T20Is against India last November and two more against New Zealand in February but failed to make a case to displace Australia's incumbent top three.
The selectors opted to trust their experienced trio of Travis Head, David Warner and Marsh who were dominant at last year's ODI World Cup. They also had long settled the middle order with Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Tim David and Wade likely to be in the first-choice XI.
Green and Inglis were preferred to Fraser-McGurk and Smith in the final 15 because they can play multiple roles. Green provides cover for the injury-prone Marsh and Stoinis, while Inglis is the backup wicketkeeper but has batted in nearly every spot in the order with some success.
Matthew Short was also unlucky to miss out after two outstanding BBL seasons and some excellent showings in his brief T20I appearances over the last 12 months.
Chair of selectors George Bailey outlined the reasons why Agar and Green were chosen in the 15 ahead of the other candidates.
"We believe Ashton can play a critical role in this tournament along with Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Cam Green and Mitch Marsh in complementing our front-line attack options," Bailey said.
"The batting options available allow a tailored approach to each venue and opponent."
"Steve Smith, Matt Short, Jason Behrendorff, Aaron Hardie, Spencer Johnson and Xavier Bartlett were all part of long conversations, along with several others, including Jake Fraser-McGurk who is yet to play T20 International cricket but continues to impress and is developing rapidly,
"Being constrained to a squad of 15 for World Cups is always a challenge given the different scenarios and options we'd like to cover. We will continue monitoring several players who have missed out on this preliminary squad and note that if we wish to change this squad, we have the option to do so over the coming weeks in accordance with ICC regulations.
"Ultimately the balance of the final 15 needs to provide the best chance of being successful in this campaign."
Marsh said he was thrilled to lead the side to a World Cup.
"It's been an immense privilege to play for my country and now an even greater honour to lead the squad to a World Cup," Marsh said.
"I am extremely grateful to have such a good group of people in our players and staff. We have had some strong success in recent times and I am hopeful that will continue in what looks like a wide-open tournament. We take a very experienced group to the West Indies, I very much look forward to the challenge and working alongside Andrew [McDonald], the coaches, players and staff."

Australia T20 World Cup 2024 squad

Mitchell Marsh (capt), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis (wk), Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (wk), David Warner, Adam Zampa

Alex Malcolm is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo