Steven Smith has been ruled out of Australia’s entire limited-overs tour of South Africa due to a wrist injury he sustained in the Ashes, but he is set to be available for the ODIs in India and the World Cup. Perth Scorchers’ captain Ashton Turner has been called in as his replacement for the T20Is and Marnus Labuschagne has been added for the ODIs.
It is understood Smith battled a left wrist issue, caused by a tendon injury, throughout the England series and he is currently wearing a splint to aid his recovery. He was set to open in the T20Is against South Africa, following his prolific return to the BBL last season, and was one of the few players from the Ashes squad named in that series. But he will now be sidelined until Australia’s series against India starting on September 22 in India just prior to the World Cup.
Mitchell Starc will also remain at home before heading out to join the India series as he recovers from a groin soreness sustained in the Ashes. Spencer Johnson, the uncapped left-arm quick who was named in the T20 squad, will remain in South Africa for the ODIs.
Mitchell Marsh has been named as captain for the South Africa ODIs following his appointment for the T20I leg of the tour. Pat Cummins will join the squad during that series but is not assured of playing as he returns from a fractured wrist.
“The compacted Ashes series and the World Test Championship was a heavy load for the group, and we are taking a conservative approach to the build-up to the World Cup,” chair of selectors George Bailey said. “With the World Cup the priority of the squad, it was determined on advice that it was best for Steve and Mitchell to join the group in India by which time we expect them to be fully fit and available for the Indian ODI series, plus the World Cup warm-up fixture.”
Australia had already selected a weakened squad for the T20Is with three-format players Cummins, Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Cameron Green and David Warner all resting due to their significant workload during the recent England tour. Ashton Agar is also missing due to a calf strain.
Glenn Maxwell will play the T20Is against South Africa starting on August 30 but then miss the five-match ODI series which follows in order to be at home for the birth of his first child before re-joining Australia’s squad for three matches against India. Australia’s first World Cup match is on October 8, also against India.
Labuschagne’s call-up is something of an ODI reprieve for him after he was the most significant omission from their World Cup plans although he remains unlikely to be part of that event.
Marsh will captain the T20I side in South Africa for the first time. It is Australia’s first series in the format since long-time captain Aaron Finch retired following the 2022 T20 World Cup. Marsh is only an interim captain for this series as Australia’s selectors are holding off on a full-time appointment until a later date.
Turner was floated in some circles as a potential candidate to succeed Finch but has not played for Australia since the T20I tour of Bangladesh in 2021.
Despite being an outstanding performer in the BBL and regarded as one of the best white-ball captains in Australia having led Western Australia and Scorchers to four titles across the Marsh Cup and BBL in the last two seasons, he had been usurped as a middle-order finisher for Australia by Marcus Stoinis, Tim David and Matthew Wade. Josh Inglis had also played as a specialist middle-order batter at times while Wade was in the team.
Inglis will keep in South Africa with Wade not selected. But Matthew Short was named ahead of Turner for the tour following an outstanding last 12 months at domestic and franchise level with both the bat and ball.
Turner was named alongside Short in the Australia A 50-over squad to face New Zealand A in a three-match series in Queensland in mid-September.
Turner will now depart the Hundred early next week, where he has been playing for Manchester Originals, and head straight to South Africa to link up with the Australia squad who arrive on Wednesday.
Michael Di Venuto will coach the T20 side along with Clint McKay and Australian women’s assistant coach Dan Marsh with head coach Andrew McDonald taking a break before the ODIs.
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