Australia’s cricket selectors have made the decision to withdraw several key players ahead of the two remaining T20 internationals against Sri Lanka. With Australia powering to a clean-sweep of the three matches played so far, some of the team’s star cricketers have been told to go home and rest ahead of a pivotal Test series against Pakistan in March.
Key bowlers like Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins are expected to miss out on the remainder of the series, and this will give Jhye Richardson chance to spearhead the Australian bowling attack at the MCG on Friday.
But it’s not just star bowlers who will be absent against Sri Lanka, as Steve Smith is due to miss the remaining games as a result of his recent concussion injury. The absence of Smith will give Travis Head another chance to shine and prove that his impressive performance in The Ashes wasn’t just a one-off. Smith suffered his concussion injury in the second game of the series and Head was temporarily absent playing in the Sheffield Shield. It is thought that Head decided to opt for playing red ball cricket in order to get practice in ahead of the Pakistan tour.
Now that the T20I victory has been secured, it’ll give selectors the chance to try out several promising players ahead of what’s expected to be a difficult Test Series in Pakistan. In particular, the arrival of Richardson will be interesting as he has yet to feature in any of the T20I games and only made a couple of appearances in the Big Bash League. Hopes are high that the bowler will be able to repeat the stunning form that caused havoc for England’s batsmen in December.
There are also expectations that Australia will give another chance for Kane Richardson to show his impressive form that earned him a Player of the Match award in the last game against Sri Lanka. Australia’s bowling attack is expected to be bolstered by the return of Adam Zampa following his resting for the third T20 international. Australia have been in great form against Sri Lanka with a 20 run victory, a six wicket triumph and a one-over eliminator win helping them seal the series.
Given that Australia made light work of England in the Ashes this summer, many will have expected the selectors to be overly confident ahead of the Pakistan tour. After all, Australia’s success saw them moving to the summit of the ICC Test rankings.
However, it’s important to note that Australia hasn’t actually played a Test series abroad since the pandemic struck. As such, the Australian squad could potentially be made up of a large number of players who have never played Test cricket abroad before. All of which means that the unpredictable wickets of Pakistan could prove to be a difficult training ground for Australia’s young stars.
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