‘Frontrunner’ emerges in World Cup selection shootout as Australia’s injury crisis laid bare

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‘Frontrunner’ emerges in World Cup selection shootout as Australia’s injury crisis laid bare
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Brad Haddin believes the simplest solution to Australia’s injury crisis is to bring Cameron Green into Australia’s XI for their final group match against Afghanistan.

Australia’s T20 World Cup defence took another turn on Monday night as captain Aaron Finch, star all-rounder and dashing batter Tim David suffered hamstring injuries.

None of the hamstring injuries appear to be significant, however Australia’s selectors will unlikely take any chances with the first semi-final (November 10) more than a week away.

It has left Australia with a few decisions to make leading into their must-win final group match, with their semi-final qualification far from sealed yet.

Even if they do defeat Afghanistan and continue their rise up their standings and improve on their Net Run-Rate, Australia’s selectors may well decide to either rest their key trio and hope they overcome their hamstring tweaks by the time next week’s semi-finals are played.

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Australia’s captain Aaron Finch is in danger of missing part of the T20 World Cup. Photo: AFPSource: AFP

They have depth, with all-rounder Cameron Green and batter Steve Smith among two of the stars in Australia’s wider squad that has yet to be called up.

Finch’s injury appears the worst and given he is the captain, Australia’s selectors could well take a cautious approach with the veteran opener given the knockout stage of the tournament is around the corner.

“A little hammy twinge, so I’ll get scans tomorrow,” Finch said post-game.

“Unfortunately I’ve had a history of them. It doesn’t feel too bad.”

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Smith, speaking on Tuesday, said he was confident of being able to replicate his feats from the home 2015 ODI World Cup success but added that Green was a compelling option is they went with his younger teammate.

“He’s pretty talented isn’t he?” Smith said of Green.

“We saw the way he played in India in particular, opening the batting, he went after it and it came off. That’s another path the selectors will go down if the guys don’t come up. So plenty of options there and good depth in our squad.

“I loved 2015, the back end of that tournament, it’s a long time ago now, but I think I passed 50 in all the last four or five games of that World Cup,” he said.

“I know when it gets to the pressure sort of stages I’d like to think I go well in those situations. So if the opportunity does arise, I’ll be ready to go.”

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Speaking on Triple M, former Australian vice-captain Haddin, who won the ODI World Cup in 2015, said Green was likely the frontrunner to come into the side if they made just the one change because it would be the least disruptive.

“This is going to be a real interesting selection because Afghanistan will be predominantly spin bowlers,” Haddin said on Triple M

“You’ve got Rashid Khan and Mujeeb (Ur Rahman) who are their big X-factor players and Steve Smith does play spin better than anyone in the world, so do you go him in the middle order and move Stoinis up to the top because Marcus Stoinis at the moment he’s been dynamo. He’s playing a really aggressive game, he’s comfortable in his role in the middle so do you want to move him up the top? 

“On the flip side you’ve got Cameron Green and we’ve seen Australia’s appetite to have him at the top of the order leading into this tournament. 

“The obvious replacement to me is Green goes up, that gives you another bowling option. You’ve got three quicks, three medium pace all-rounders, so you’ve got options with the ball. So I’d imagine Green’s the frontrunner.”

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Green’s breakthrough came during the three-match tour of India last month, where the all-rounder smashed two half-centuries at the top of the order in the absence of David Warner.

Despite not being in the initial World Cup squad, the 23-year-old struggled opening against the West Indies and England as his hit-and-hope approach backfired. It led to the likes of Mark Waugh and Michael Clarke slamming the decision to give Green opportunities ahead of Smith.

But Josh Inglis’ freak injury on the eve of the tournament paved the way for the rising star to be included in the World Cup squad.

Aaron Finch (R) is in danger of missing Australia’s must-win T20 against Afghanistan. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

While Haddin said he would like to find a spot in the XI for Smith, the former wicket-keeper added Green was likely the frontrunner given the opportunities he was afforded in the lead-in matches and the fact it could be a straight swap.

“I’d like to find a spot for Steve Smith but the way Australia played the games previously into this tournament, giving Cameron Green as much time as they possibly can at the top of the order (indicates he is the second choice),” Haddin said. 

“If he comes in that’s one change, if Steve Smith comes in that’s a couple of changes.”

Haddin added that the settled nature of the middle order meant Australia would be reluctant to disturb it. 

“At the moment, I think Stoinis is playing a really good role in the middle. He’s confident, he’s aggressive,” Haddin said. 

“(Glenn) Maxwell’s just starting to find a bit of rhythm. Matthew Wade you’re not going to move because he’s played such an important role at seven. You could move Maxwell up but then there’s two changes. 

“I think the easy thing to do is to bring Cameron Green up. It’s a big choice that the selectors have got and it’s a good one because you’re bringing two good players in.”



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