Steve Smith and David Warner’s year-long exile from the Australian squad will end on Monday when they are re-contracted and named in the tour party to defend the World Cup title.
Smith and Warner are both set to feature in the 15-man squad for the England tournament, with coach Justin Langer facing bigger ques-tions about his pace bowlers than his wider batting group.
It will mark the first time the pair have been selected since the Cape Town Test in March last year, where they copped the 12-month bans stemming over the ball-sandpapering saga.
They will also return to Cricket Australia’s contracted players list, after the two biggest names were left off last year.
Paceman Pat Cummins is, however, likely to remain the highest paid player on the list, following the best 12 months of his career.
Australia’s World Cup squad is ar-guably more clear cut than their best XI for their tournament opener against Afghanistan on June 1.
Their eight-match winning streak in India and the UAE has given Aus-tralia the blueprint with which to attack the tournament, after adopt-ing a more conservative batting lineup midway through the summer.
Warner, Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja are all expected to be picked to play, despite uncertainty over which two will fill the opening role.
Peter Handscomb’s spot in the XI is in doubt with former skipper Smith’s return to the team, but he is likely to stay in the 15-man squad given he offers a back-up wicket-keeping option.
Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon will both be picked as spinning options, however whether Australia would follow rivals’ leads by taking two spinners into most matches is ques-tionable.
It is in the pace bowling department that Trevor Hohns and his panel could make the biggest calls.—Agencies