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Steve Smith and Warner return as Australia announce World Cup squad




Former skipper Steve Smith and deputy David Warner have walked their way back into the Australian team as the national selectors announced the squad for the upcoming ICC World Cup in England and Wales.

Having served their bans following the Sandpaper Gate fiasco in South Africa in 2018, the two have been currently playing in the Indian Premier League. Aaron Finch will lead the squad. Josh Hazlewood is the only senior player left out as he is still working on his fitness after suffering a stress fracture in January.

Australia have picked five pacers and two spinners in Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Jason Behrendorff, Jhye Richardson and Nathan Coulter-Nile, Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa. Starc and Richardson’s position will be assessed further as they recover from injuries.

Usman Khawaja, Finch, Alex Carey, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis complete the squad.

Interestingly, there will be a 14-member Australia A team that will be playing against county team during the World Cup and they will provide substitutes if any player in the World Cup team is injured.

Speaking on the selection, chief selector Trevor Hohns said: “Given the depth of talent and competition for spots there were a number of tough calls we had to make to settle on our squad of 15.

“Unfortunately, from the recent squad which toured India and the UAE, Peter Handscomb, Ashton Turner and Kane Richardson have made way for the above inclusions (Smith, Warner and Starc), but all three have been included in the Australia A squad for the tour of England.

“Josh Hazlewood has also been named in the Australia A squad. Having not played at the highest level for some time, we feel this will provide him with the best preparation to get some quality cricket under his belt. Our focus is to have Josh back bowling at his best for the commencement of a big Ashes Tour.”

Australia squad: Aaron Finch (capt), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Alex Carey, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Pat Cummins, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon.


West Indies hoping to emulate Headingley 2017 performance: Phil Simmons



West Indies coach Phil Simmons said that the West Indies are drawing strength from their previous tour of England. The series started with a crushing defeat at Edgbaston for the visitors but they followed that with a stunning win at Headingley where they chased down a target of 322.

“We are drawing on that. The Test match before Headingley we were horrible and that seems to be like that most times we go on tour. We are trying to make sure that bad match is taken out of the equation and we start properly,” Simmons told the “Cricket, on the Inside” webinar in conjunction with the Lord’s Taverners and Black Opal, on Friday.

“We are playing against one of the best Test teams in the world and we need to start on the front foot. We’re trying to bring back memories of Headingley and get the psychology right.”

The win was fuelled by the batsmen, particularly the form that Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope discovered in both innings. Both batsmen have since had a lean run in Test cricket.

“I think the batters have worked hard on getting to a mental stage of where they need to be because most of them have scored runs here,” Simmons said.

“(Shai) Hope has got back-to-back hundreds here. It’s about getting to the mental stage where you are prepared for a Test match in England, because it’s different to many other places.

“The next three days of practice is about sharpening up the skills. But mentality is the big thing.”

The first Test of the upcoming series will be played at the Ageas Bowl from July 8. It is the first international cricket series to be played since the sporting calendar froze around mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic and all matches will be played without spectators.

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Inzamam-ul-Haq throws weight behind Babar to do well in all formats




Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has backed rising star Babar Azam, saying the Pakistan white-ball skipper has the numbers to back him amid constant comparisons with Virat Kohli.

“Babar is always compared to Virat Kohli but the latter has played a lot more cricket and if you look at their stats and performances at the stage Babar is now, he has not done badly at all,” Inzamam told a TV channel.

The two modern-day greats are time and again pitted against each other, by fans and critics alike, for their impeccable playing styles and incredible consistency.

Azam recently stated that he doesn’t want to be compared with India captain Kohli but with some of the top-class batsmen that have donned the jersey of Pakistan in the past.

“I don’t want to be compared with Virat Kohli. It would be better if people compare me with one of the Pakistani legends like Javed Miandad, Mohammad Yousuf or Younis Khan,” Azam said during a teleconference as per Cricket Pakistan.

Azam and his Pakistan teammates have already touched down in England for their much-anticipated series in August which includes three Tests and as many T20Is.

“Babar struggled initially in Test cricket but we never had any doubt about his ability so we persisted with him and see today where he is standing in all formats,” Inzamam added.

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Getting back into the groove: Cheteshwar Pujara posts video of net session




Cheteshwar Pujara has hit the nets early with the Australia tour later this year in mind, and the Test specialist batsman on Saturday posted a video of him batting at the nets on social media.

“Getting back into the groove!#saturdaysession #musictomyears,” Pujara said in a tweet with a video where he is seen driving, pulling and defending the ball with vigour.

Pujara recently shared a photograph of the Indian Test side celebrating their series win in Australia last year and said that he can’t wait to get back among the players in the dressing room.

Pujara last played for India in their second Test against New Zealand in Christchurch in March.

The 2018/19 series was the first time any Asian side managed to beat Australia Down Under in a Test series. Pujara was India’s best batsman, finishing as the highest scorer in the series with 521 runs at an average of 74.42. India then went on to win the subsequent ODI series as well to end the tour on a high.

With a shadow of doubt hanging over the T20 World Cup that is scheduled to be held in Australia later in the year, India’s next series seems to be a Test series in Australia itself.

Cricket Australia earlier confirmed the schedule for the four-match Test series which is set to begin on December 3. The matches will be played at the Gabba, Adelaide Oval, Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

Pujara last played for India in their second Test against New Zealand in Christchurch. This was also incidentally the last match that India played at all with their first ODI match against South Africa at home washed out and the rest of the series being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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