SYDNEY: Australia on Monday named virtually the same squad for a one-day series in New Zealand next month as the line-up that triumphed over India, controversially leaving out “red-hot” batsman Usman Khawaja.
“This squad remains largely unchanged after a fantastic series win against India,” national selector Rod Marsh said.
“We have selected Adam Zampa as the spinning option for this tour in place of Nathan Lyon.”
Australia want their leading spinner to return to domestic action to prepare for the upcoming two-Test series in New Zealand.
“This will give us a chance to have a good look at Adam ahead of the ICC World T20,” Marsh added. That tournament takes place in India during March and April.
“Adam has certainly put forward a strong case for selection through good performances in the KFC Big Bash (League) and we think he has thoroughly earned this opportunity.”
But there was no place for Khawaja despite his man-of-the-match winning performance in the BBL final on Sunday night when he hit 70 off 40 deliveries.
Selector Mark Waugh led a charge for Khawaja’s inclusion, arguing that he was the top opener in the world today.
“He is batting as well as anyone can possibly bat,” Waugh said.
Sydney’s Daily Telegraph said Monday that if Khawaja was not in the squad, “it will be the biggest embarrassment of the summer and create uproar in cricketing circles.”
Selector Marsh admitted that it was a tough call to leave out Khawaja, saying they had “tried our hardest to work him into the side”.
“He’s in red-hot form and it’s just a shame that we can’t fit him in,” he told reporters in Adelaide.
“We just couldn’t find anyone to drop, to leave out of the side because they are all in fantastic form.
“We’d love to have him in the side. We’d love to be able to pick 16 or 17 because I think there’s 16 or 17 that actually deserve to be in our one-day side.”
Marsh chose to focus on the challenges to be faced in New Zealand.
“We know one of the biggest challenges we will face in New Zealand is adapting to the change in conditions,” he said.
“The New Zealand side will be very tough to beat in their home conditions.
“We know we will need to be at the top of our game if we want to be competitive.”
The Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series starts in Auckland on February 3 and moves on to Wellington on February 6 and Hamilton February 8 with the Test matches to follow.
Australia: Steve Smith (capt), David Warner, George Bailey, Scott Boland, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazelwood, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.