Steve Smith in for the injured Mitch Marsh looms as the lone change to the Australian team to take on India on Friday at the SCG in the international summer opener as coach Justin Langer labelled his squad’s depth a “tactical advantage” over the tourists.
Twenty-seven Aussie players are training in two groups in separate quarantine hubs in Sydney, and the ODI squad won’t come together until the morning of the clash with the Indians amid a preparation like never before.
Langer said Aussie great Ricky Ponting’s arm had “fallen off” he’d been throwing that many balls to Smith in their training hub, where he’s also been facing fast bowlers Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood every day since their return from the IPL.
On Tuesday at the SCG seven of Australia‘s 18-man ODI squad, including batsman Marnus Labuschange and boom all-rounder Cameron Green, trained under the watchful eye of Langer, who has been in Sydney since Sunday.
Langer said Green “had to be bowling” to be any chance of making his ODI debut on Friday, and the exit of the injured Marsh potentially opened up a spot for the extra all-rounder the coach wanted in his team.
But it’s more likely Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell will share the bowling, and Smith, who missed the entire ODI series against England in September with concussion, would be the straight swap.
“We’ll probably lean that way. We’ve talked about in our foundation for one-day cricket going forward, we really like that extra bowling option,” Langer said on Wednesday.
“In England we had Marsh, Maxwell and Stoinis being able to get us at least 10 overs. We like that combination.
“Stevie will come straight in, but there are some headaches, but they are good headaches. We’ve got great depth … there is lots of competition, that’s exactly how we want it, keep the guys in the first XI on their toes.
Coach Justin Langer welcomes the selection ‘headaches’. Picture. Phil HillyardSource:News Corp Australia
“It’s one of our competitive advantages.”
Langer said they were being extra cautious with Green, who returned to bowling in the Sheffield Shield earlier this month after suffering from back issues.
“If we are going pick Cameron Green he has to be bowling, in one-day cricket specifically, not so much in T20 cricket or Test cricket,” Langer said.
“We’re very sensitive to his physical health, he’s had two stress fractures in the past. He‘s up and running, he’s bowling well and gives us another option at the selection table which is exciting.”
Troy Cooley with Cameron Green, who gives the Aussies another option at the selection table. Picture. Phil HillyardSource:News Corp Australia
While the Aussie are training separately, the entire Indian squad is preparing as one unit for the three-match ODI series that is followed by three T20 internationals in quick succession.
But Langer is happy his players are getting enough competition to be ready for the showdown with a team the Aussie coach considers his biggest rivals.
“If you ask guys like David Warner and Maxy, Steve Smith, they are facing Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. The guys in the SCG nets, they’re batting against Starcy (Mitchell Starc) and Sean Abbott. They’re getting plenty of competition,” Langer said.
“They’ll know they are in the contest when they walk out on Friday against India. The boys will be ready.”
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