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Returning stars leave Short out in the cold

Back-to-back leading run-scorer in the Big Bash League, D’Arcy Short has been squeezed out of Australia’s top order for series’ against Sri Lanka and Pakistan

Australia’s renewed focus on winning the one piece of silverware that continues to elude them has left the KFC Big Bash League’s most devastating batsman, D’Arcy Short, out in the cold.

Twelve months out from the T20 World Cup – a tournament Australia have never won but will host for the first time next October – selectors have announced a 14-man squad for upcoming T20I series’ against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, with Short a notable omission and top-order pair David Warner and Steve Smith equally noteworthy inclusions.

Smith has not played a single T20 international since the last World T20 tournament in March 2016, while Warner has featured in just nine of Australia’s 29 matches since they bowed out in the group stages of that event, which was held in India and won by the West Indies.

Short, meanwhile, has batted in Australia’s top three in 19 of those matches, while also starring as the BBL’s leading run-scorer in the past two tournaments with Hobart Hurricanes.

More recently, the left-hander hit a fine 129 for Western Australia in the Marsh One-Day Cup after finishing as the fourth-highest run-scorer in England’s T20 domestic competition with Durham in the northern summer. The left-arm spinner also picked up 13 wickets in 12 games in his first stint in UK’s county system.

But chief selector Trevor Hohns said the top three slots in the T20 batting order are presently owned by Warner, Smith and captain Aaron Finch, the latter of whom has been Australia’s leading T20 international run-scorer since the last T20 World Cup.

“They are for the time being (locked in as the top three),” Hohns said of the trio in Brisbane today.

“And if we look at each individual, they’re world-class – they’re probably three of the best players in the world.

“There is always unlucky people when it comes to selection, and D’Arcy operates in the area where there just happens to be Smith, Warner and Finch, and it’s difficult to squeeze one of those fellows out. D’Arcy obviously is a standby player at this stage.”

Short has been comfortably the standout batsman of the past two Big Bash tournaments, scoring a combined 1209 runs at an average of 54.95 and a strike-rate of 144.27.

In that time, neither Smith nor Warner have played Big Bash cricket, though Warner was the leading run-scorer in this year’s Indian Premier League with Sunrisers Hyderabad, blasting 692 runs from just 12 matches – almost 100 runs more than the next best – at a strike rate of 144. Smith returned 319 runs at an average of 39.87 and a strike rate of 116 in that tournament.

Hohns added that ample time remained for World Cup hopefuls to push their selection cases with strong performances in the shortest format, with this summer’s BBL to serve as the likeliest platform for that to happen given next year’s ICC event will be played at many of the same venues.

“This is only the start of the preparation leading into the World Cup, and good performances by (hopefuls) could squeeze the others out, depending on their form as well, and then of course injuries could occur at any stage,” he said.

“So it’s very important that the fringe players keep knocking on the door … and making themselves irresistible for selection going forward.”

Queenslander Chris Lynn was another top-order batsman omitted from the squad, with the 29-year-old not among those looked at for selection.

Lynn has batted in Australia’s top three on 11 occasions since the last T20 World Cup, though the Brisbane Heat captain has failed to transfer his BBL fireworks onto the international scene, averaging 19.36 with a top score of 44 through that time.

“We haven’t considered (Lynn) at the moment,” Hohns said. “Chris isn’t playing any cricket locally or within Australia. Sure he’s been travelling the world playing T20 cricket.

“If he performs well in the upcoming Big Bash, of course we can revisit that. I haven’t spoken to Chris at all yet. To be honest, I don’t know if he’s in the country.”

Australia’s opening T20I of the summer is against Sri Lanka on October 27, and marks the first of 21 matches in the shortest format in the build-up to the World Cup.

As a consequence, Hohns stressed workload management of Smith, Warner and Pat Cummins particularly – a trio deemed key members in all three national sides – would be a key consideration.

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