Cummins, Smith, Starc, Maxwell may not play before World Cup

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Captain Pat Cummins, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Starc may not be fit to play before the start of the ODI World Cup, but all were named in the provisional 15-man squad for the tournament that will be finalised later this month.

Cummins (fractured hand), Smith (wrist tendon), Maxwell (ankle) and Starc (groin) are all missing from the ODI series in South Africa due to start on Thursday night, meaning more than a quarter of the squad are under fitness clouds ahead of the global 50-over tournament in India.

Pat Cummins.Credit: Getty

Their absences have afforded chances for younger players like Aaron Hardie, Tanveer Sangha and Nathan Ellis to flourish in the Twenty20 matches that kicked off the tour, but the selectors have remained steadfast with the established senior group.

No fewer than eight players in the 2023 World Cup 15 also featured in the 2019 tournament: Cummins, Smith, Maxwell, Starc, Alex Carey, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner and Adam Zampa. Ashton Agar, Josh Hazlewood and stand-in captain Mitchell Marsh are also long-term fixtures in the white ball set-up.

After Marnus Labuschagne was culled from the extended cup squad last month, he and others in South Africa will be hoping for some breakout displays to push the selectors into reconsidering the current 15.

However, in an era of stability so far as selection is concerned, injury issues are more likely to open opportunities rather than capricious decision-making.

While none of Smith, Cummins, Starc or Maxwell have serious injury concerns, their relative lack of match play before the tournament recalls some problems experienced by the team before the T20 World Cup on home soil last year, and also the lead-in to the Test tour of India earlier this year.

“Pat Cummins, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell are on track in their return to play programs,” selection chair George Bailey said. “All are well placed to come back online in the coming weeks and potentially for selection in the upcoming series against India.

“There are eight one-day matches still to play in South Africa and India before the final squad is due to be declared. They are followed by two World Cup practice games, which offers plenty of opportunity to continue the build for the tournament.”

Provisional World Cup squad: Pat Cummins (capt), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa.

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