Could Australia leave out Pat Cummins during the World Cup?

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Josh Hazlewood has made a compelling case for inclusion while two frontline spinners appear likely

Vice-captain Pat Cummins accepts there’s a chance he may not always find a place in Australia’s starting XI during the T20 World Cup with questions remaining over how they will balance their side ahead of their opening match against South Africa.

When Australia went to No. 1 in the T20I rankings in 2020, their success had been based around an attack of five specialist bowlers – a structure head coach Justin Langer has been a supporter of since his days at Perth Scorchers – but they have switched between that and an extra allrounder during this year.

Australia have not had their first-choice team together for their last four series, during which they have won just five and lost 13 matches.

Hazlewood did not play either of the warm-up matches but should have a strong case to start the tournament while Starc is a certain inclusion. If Australia continued with the two frontline spinners in Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar it will create a squeeze for pace-bowling positions.

“We have six, seven, eight guys right at the top of their game in our squad from a bowling point of view, so I’m sure that will be worked out,” Cummins said. “The conversation around our T20 side in the last little bit has been around whether we play the five bowlers or we play four and rely on the allrounders. We’ll see how it plays, it might change from game to game.

“There’s a possibility for anyone [to miss out], it’s a World Cup, [it’s] what is best for the team. I want to play so we’ll see what happens…someone is going to miss out.

“We made it really clear it’s a squad mentality. I know in 2015 [the ODI World Cup] I felt I could still give a lot even when I wasn’t in the XI. We are trying to instill that in everyone. There might be four quicks trying to fit into two or three [spots] but it’s five [group] games so you still might get a chance.”

Cummins is one of the Australia players coming into the tournament off precious little cricket, having also delayed his arrival to the UAE by a few days due to the birth of his first child. The warm-up game against India was his first outing since the India leg of IPL 2021 was suspended in April.

“We knew match practice was going to be tough in the current climate so before I came I did quite a few centre-wicket practices with New South Wales,” he said. “I was going flat-out for the last month knowing we might not get a heap of game time before the World Cup starts. I feel really good.”

Cummins said he expected pace-off options for the quicks to be an important weapon during the tournament but was also wary that dew could play a part in the night matches.

Australia’s warm-up results have been a tight win over New Zealand and a heavy defeat to India. They do not go into the tournament as one of the fancied teams as they seek to win the T20 World Cup for the first time, and there are concerns over the form of David Warner.

“You look around the room and we have some of the best players in the world,” Cummins said. “Everyone is fit, everyone is ready to go. Within the camp there’s a real confidence.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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