Former captain Ricky Ponting expects the Australia T20 squad that was picked today for the upcoming tour of South Africa to largely resemble the T20 World Cup squad later this year on home soil.
Australia’s National Selection Panel (NSP) picked 14 players for the three-game T20 leg of their South African campaign, with allrounder Mitch Marsh edging out Marcus Stoinis while Matthew Wade and Glenn Maxwell earned recalls.
Aaron Finch’s side has 15 T20 internationals between now and the start of the men’s T20 World Cup in October to settle on a winning formula, but Ponting says it’s the calibre of players that were not picked that underlines the strength of the Australian squad.
“Continuity in the T20 team is really important and I don’t think there will be too many changes to that squad picked today ahead of the T20 World Cup,” Ponting told cricket.com.au on Tuesday.
“What stands out to me about how strong this T20 side is the fact D’Arcy Short can’t get in.
“He’s been the standout player in the Big Bash for the last three seasons and can’t get into it.”
Short, who was named BBL Player of the Tournament in BBL|07 and BBL|08, was one of four players dropped from the T20 squad that swept Sri Lanka and Pakistan at the start of the summer, with Ben McDermott, Billy Stanlake and Ashton Turner also omitted.
In their place comes Marsh, Maxwell, Wade and paceman Jhye Richardson, who has overcome a shoulder injury to force his way back into the national setup.
The non-selection of Marcus Stoinis, who was today crowned the BBL Player of the Tournament, was perhaps the biggest talking point after the squad was released this afternoon.
Ponting says Australia’s powerful top order of Finch, David Warner and Steve Smith meant Stoinis was likely competing with Marsh for the allrounder spot, with the Perth Scorchers captain getting the nod.
“He’s unlucky on the back of being in sensational form, Stoinis, but all he can do is keep scoring runs and keep throwing his name up there for selection,” said Ponting.
“I just don’t think there was room for both Stoinis and Mitch Marsh in those squads and they’ve decided to go with Marsh.
“It’s harsh on Stoinis but he’s just got to keep performing.”
While Stoinis missed out, his Melbourne Stars captain Maxwell was picked for his first national squad since stepping away from cricket to focus on his mental health during the T20 series against Sri Lanka last October.
He returned in time to lead the Stars in the KFC BBL and was in imperious form at the start of the season before slightly dropping off in the past three weeks.
Ponting says it is great to see the 31-year-old back in Australian colours but insists he must perform to keep his place or risk being dropped like has in the past.
“If he is playing like he’s played some of these Big Bash innings then the Australian team becomes a whole lot stronger, it’s as simple as that,” Ponting said.
“There’s not many people in the world that can do what he can do in the back part of the innings.
“He brings that x-factor so when he’s on and playing well he’s as destructive as anybody in the world.
“But it’s the same old thing with him – it’s up to him to do it.
“We have these really high expectations of him that he might be able to win games of cricket for Australia but at the end of the day he needs to put his hand up and prove to himself and to anybody else that he can get it done.
“He’s been in and out of the of the one-day team over the past four or five years and it’s always been on performances.
“His performances haven’t quite been good enough, haven’t been consistent enough.
“He’s got another chance now and it’s up to him to prove to himself he can be a very consistent international performer.”
Maxwell is set to be part of a powerful lower-order combination for Australia in either the T20 or 50-over sides alongside Wade and gloveman Alex Carey.
Wade won selection following his explosive return to the BBL after the Test summer where he struggled to play with freedom.
His pyrotechnics for the Hobart Hurricanes suggests he is back to his damaging best, and Ponting likes the look of Wade and Carey finishing off an innings together.
“I like that selection, Wade deserves that chance to be back in there,” he said.
“Wade’s gone back to the Big Bash and been brilliant. Those four or five games he played at the back half of the tournament were outstanding.
“It looked like it just freed his mind up a little bit and went out there and enjoyed himself which I think if you look at the way he played during the Test summer it looked like a real battle for him.
“The selectors might look at using him like a floater, have him pop up the order at the right moment or use him as a finisher that becomes such an important role in T20 cricket.
“In the first part of his Big Bash career he was down the lower order, so he has played that role in the past and I reckon they’ll use Carey in a similar role.
“Two experienced guys like that finishing off a T20 innings I think would be invaluable.”
Australia’s Qantas Tour of South Africa 2020
Australia T20 squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitch Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa
Australia ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey (vc), Pat Cummins (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitch Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa