Australian selectors are feeling anxious about their bowling department, so they called out of favour Shaun Tait after five years. The speedster’s selection in the team exposed selectors wariness about a lack of high-velocity pace bowling options ahead of the World T20. While Chris Lynn has been rewarded for his explosive batting in Big Bash League.
The uncapped batsman Travis Head and fast bowler Andrew Tye and Scott Boland have also been included in a 17 man group for the three T20, which also includes veteran allrounder Shane Watson.
Spinner Nathan Lyon may well have been on the selectors’ radar as a World T20 candidate for some time, the re-emergence of Tait has been more unexpected.
Tait, 32, has played international cricket since 2011 World Cup but has impressed the selectors during this summer’s BBL which he picked 10 wickets at 24.70.
Among the big names, George Bailey has been dropped the T20 squad.
Cricket Australia selector Rod Marsh said they have to see that Tait remain can bowl express pace and whether that come in handy in Indian conditions, but admitted pace was needed in the absence of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins and following the retirement of Mitchell Johnson.
“We don’t know and I don’t know whether we’ll find out – it’s up to Shaun now,” the selection chairman Rod Marsh said. “To be honest, I didn’t even know if he was going to play that many [BBL] games. I knew he was on the list. He’s probably the fastest bowler in the country at the moment. You do need a bit of pace in T20 cricket.”
Meanwhile, Shane Watson, who recalled to the national side after a strong burst of performance for the Sydney Thunder in the latter stages of the Big Bash League, said Tait was a viable option for the World T20 in the rhythm he has shown during the tournament. “I did face him. I faced two balls, once was a very fast bouncer and the other one I nicked off, so he was very good1!” Watson said.
“Shaun Tait’s an X-Factor, always has been, and it’s great to see him back around the Aussie team. I still believe he has a lot to offer, with his body right and bowling fast, the way he releases the ball is different to anything you face, so it’s awesome he’s got another opportunity.”
In 2015, Australia played only one T20 international, so the three games against India in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney and two match series in South Africa will be the only chance for players to audition ahead of the naming of the World T20 squad.
Bailey has no room in the T20 team, although Marsh said he was confident Bailey’s experience would allow him to step straight back in if needed at the World T20.
Nathan Lyon’s selections came with turning track of Indian pitches in mind. Besides Lyon leg-spinner, Cameron Boyce has also been included. Nathan Lyon has also been selected for final two ODIs against India replacing fast bowler Joel Paris, and Marsh said it was the right time to give him a chance with the white ball, having played only eight ODIs.
“We’re probably looking to see how he goes and it is an audition for him re India, I guess,” Marsh said of Lyon’s selection in the T20 squad. “He’s got such a wonderful record in Test cricket, we didn’t want to jeopardise that in any way, shape or form. He’s been a terrific bowler for us in Test match cricket and we certainly didn’t want to play him in a few odd one-day games or an odd T20 here or there, and for him to start bowling flat and losing that terrific rhythm that he’s now got.”
Marsh also said selectors were taking “wait and see” approach with Watson, whose ODI career appears to be over as well as his time as a Test cricketer. Watson;s experience in India and at World T20 tournaments may help him to get selected in the final 15 of the marquee tournament again. The squad will be announced on February 11 after he returned to form with 62 and 66 in his two most recent games for Sydney Thunder.
Australia also selected explosive to order batsman Chris Lynn and Travis Head, both of whom are in the top three run scorers in this year’s BBL. Lynn played two T20s for Australia in January 2014 while Head is yet to make his debut for Australia in any form. New faces in the following group include Boland, who has played three ODIs already this summer.
“Not many countries have seen much of him,” Marsh said of Tye, a Perth Scorchers fast bowler. “His form in the last two Big Bash Leagues has been outstanding. He is a good death bowler as well, and really it is death from over one in T20.”
The selectors also confirmed their squad for the remaining two ODIs against India, with Paris and Usman Khawaja making way for Lyon and David Warner, who is returning from paternity leave. The final two ODIs will be played in Canberra and Sydney are dead rubbers as Australia secured the series with their win in Melbourne on Sunday.
Australia 17-man squad: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Steve Smith, Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade, James Faulkner, John Hastings, Shaun Marsh, Cameron Boyce, Nathan Lyon, Chris Lynn, Travis Head, Kane Richardson, Andrew Tye, Scott Boland, Shaun Tait