Aussies drop biggest hint yet on T20 World Cup captaincy as big guns return to squad for New Zealand tour



Australia’s big guns Pat Cummins, Travis Head, Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc have been summoned for the Twenty20 squad for the looming away series in New Zealand.

The star quartet are among a 15-man squad named on Tuesday for the three-match series starting on February 21.

In a clear signal towards the T20 World Cup later in the year, Mitch Marsh will retain the captaincy role that he held in the mid-2023 tour of South Africa.

Cummins had been in charge before the series against the Proteas, but was rested following a heavy schedule in the Ashes and with the ultimately victorious 50-over World Cup to come.

Sean Abbott, despite his match-winning heroics in Australia’s 50-over win against West Indies last Sunday, has missed a berth – he’s on standby along with paceman Jason Behrendorff.

Abbott and Behrendorff will feature in Australia’s home T20 series against West Indies which begins in Hobart on Friday.

But chairman of selectors George Bailey said the duo will miss the New Zealand games as Australia seek to fine-tune their line-up ahead of the World Cup starting in June in the Caribbean and United States.

“The next six games will provide us the opportunity to start shaping what we think our World Cup squad will look like and potential roles within that,” Bailey said in a statement.

“We will also fully utilise the opportunity to monitor and watch the performances of the Australian players in the IPL immediately preceding the World Cup.”

Should fast bowlers Starc, Cummins and Josh Hazlewood all play in the same game, it will be the first time the pace trio have featured together in a T20 line-up since a home World Cup game against Ireland on October 31, 2022.

The Aussies will have played a dozen T20Is between that game and the first match of the NZ series.

Australia play the Black Caps on February 21 in Wellington before two games in Auckland, on February 23 and February 25.

Australia squad:

Mitchell Marsh (capt), Pat Cummins, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Matt Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.

© AAP

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