Australia down to nine players for T20 World Cup warm-ups

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Australia will be significantly shorthanded for their two T20 World Cup matches with players who were involved late into the IPL given the chance for a short break at home before heading to the Caribbean.

They are set to have just nine players available for the match against Namibia on Tuesday (Wednesday morning Australia time) with their resources further stretched by captain Mitchell Marsh not yet ready to bowl following the hamstring injury which ended his IPL.

They also play co-hosts West Indies on Thursday.

Pat Cummins, Travis Head and Mitchell Starc were involved in the IPL final on Sunday and will briefly return to Australia before joining the World Cup squad. Glenn Maxwell and Cameron Green, who were part of Royal Challengers Bengaluru’s run to the playoffs, are also spending time at home.

Those five are due to arrive when the Australia squad reaches Barbados ahead of their first group match against Oman on June 5. Marcus Stoinis has also yet to arrive in the Caribbean.

“It’s important to be flexible,” Marsh told cricket.com.au. “Guys have been at the IPL. They’ve been playing a lot of cricket so we’ve prioritized giving them a couple of days at home, see their family, refresh and play the long game for this tournament. We’ll get to our 15 eventually but it’s really important that we give them a break, even if it’s [just] a couple of days at home.”

It means that Australia will likely need to call on members of the coaching staff to field during the warm-up matches if they want a full complement.

Brad Hodge has joined the support staff for this tournament while head coach Andrew McDonald, national selector George Bailey and assistant coach Andre Borovec could also be called in.

Daniel Vettori, another assistant coach, will also be part of the group after the IPL where he has been head coach of Sunrisers Hyderabad but would not be eligible to field in warm-up matches with those used having to come from the country involved.

Marsh, who will captain Australia in a global event for the first time, was confident of being able to play both warm-up matches as a batter despite a slower than expected recovery from the hamstring injury he picked up playing for Delhi Capitals.

“I’m just ticking off the last few things I need to tick off to be fit and available,” he said. “All went well today. It’s been progressively slow but finally getting there now and looking forward to getting stuck into the tournament.

“Initially we thought it was a three-weeker but with tendons they can take a little bit longer and you sort of have to go on feel. Once I was ruled out of the IPL we’ve certainly taken our time to get it right and I feel lucky I’ve had that bit of extra time, a little bit of time at home to refresh and like all the others who have arrived today I’m raring to go.”

Some teams have opted out of practice matches altogether but Australia’s two warm-ups will carry significance for those players coming from the off-season – Adam Zampa, Josh Inglis, Josh Hazlewood and Ashton Agar – and those like Matthew Wade and Nathan Ellis who did not feature much for their IPL sides.

David Warner, whose international career will come to a close at the World Cup, is also coming into the tournament after a lean IPL and having suffered a hand injury.

“He [Warner] didn’t really hit scores, and then he got a nasty hit on his hand. Basically, had the worst bone bruising and his contusion on the back of his hand that he’s ever seen,” Ricky Ponting, Delhi Capitals’ head coach, told the ICC review.

“He’s a feisty little competitor that once the World Cup comes around, he hits the Australian colours back on again, then I’ve got no real concerns about him.” (ESPNcricinfo)

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