In a major shakeup to their T20 squad, Australia have named Peter Nevill, Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa in their 15-man line-up while Steven Smith will replace Aaron Finch as captain as Australia's selectors look for a winning combination ahead of the all important ICC T20 World Cup 2016 in India.
Finch, who is suffering from a hamstring injury picked up during the T20 series against India, was retained in the squad despite his removal from captaincy but Matthew Wade, Cameron Boyce and Nathan Lyon were not so fortunate as the selectors decided on replacing them despite limited T20 opportunities.
When asked about the decision to replace Finch with Smith as captain, national selector Rod Marsh cited the need to provide continuity as a basis of their change. ''Aaron Finch has done a very good job captaining Australia in T20 cricket, he will have benefitted enormously from the leadership opportunity and will remain a highly-respected leader within the Australia squad", Marsh said as quoted by ESPN Cricinfo.
On Smith's appointment, he added, "Since he became T20 captain, there has been a broader leadership transition in test and one-day international cricket with Michael Clarke retiring and Steve Smith assuming the captaincy in Test and one-day cricket. We think now is the right time for Steve to lead Australia in all three forms of the game as it offers us important continuity, not only ahead of the World T20 but beyond that tournament as well."
There has been a growing criticism regarding the wicket-keeper position in particular from former keeper Brad Haddin, who was miffed at the omission of Peter Nevill in favour of Matthew Wade who played the recent T20 series against India. On Nevill's inclusion Marsh told the Guardian "We feel our batting depth in this squad is sufficient enough that we can have a specialist wicket-keeper in the squad. We want Australia's best wicket-keeper playing in the tournament and we consider Peter Nevill to be best in the country right now."
The inclusion of Nevill, Agar, Zampa and Coulter-Nile brings the total player count to 23, i.e the number of players the selectors have included in various T20 squads over the past three weeks. After the two tests in New Zealand, Australia play a three-match T20 series in South Africa before travelling to India for the 2016 T20 World Cup.
Australia Squad for ICC World Twenty20
Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazelwood, Usman Khawaha, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Nevill, Andrew Tye, Shane Watson, Adam Zampa.