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ICC World Cup 2019: Australia announce 15-player squad for the tournament

The reigning World Cup champions, Australia, have taken the first major step in their title defense as they have announced the final 15-member squad for the upcoming 2019 World Cup. The all-important 50-overs mega event will be kicking off with the opening game between hosts England and South Africa on May 30 in London. While Australia will be starting its World Cup campaign against Afghanistan on June 1 in Bristol. 

Smith and Warner back in the frame; Handscomb misses out

The major headlining point from the squad revelation is that the tainted duo comprising of Steven Smith and David Warner will be making their much-awaited international returns at the mega event in England and Wales. However, in order to accommodate these two mainstays in that flight, Peter Handscomb becomes the unfortunate guy to miss out the dream opportunity. 

Handscomb has been in a stunning form in the limited-overs format, smashing a brilliant match-winning hundred against India in the recent ODI series. He also compiled three half-centuries in the last 13 games. Along with Handscomb, senior fast bowler Josh Hazlewood has also failed to find a place in that squad as the team management and the selectors are keen on preserving him for the upcoming Ashes which is scheduled after the World Cup. 

"Steve Smith and David Warner come back into the squad. Both are world class players and it has been pleasing to see them produce some good form in the IPL. Given the depth of talent and competition for spots there were a number of tough calls we had to make to settle on our squad of 15,” quoted Trevor Hohns, the Chairman of Selectors.

"Josh Hazlewood has also been named in the Australia A squad. Having not played at the highest level for some time, we feel this will provide him with the best preparation to get some quality cricket under his belt. Our focus is to have Josh back bowling at his best for the commencement of a big Ashes Tour," he noted.

Khawaja and March reap the rewards; Short and Turner miss the flight

The left-hand batting pair of Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja have retained their respective slots due to their impressive form in the last few months. However, due to some stiff competition in the batting department, the duo of D'Arcy Short and Ashton Turner have not been included in the side.

“Unfortunately, from the recent squad which toured India and the UAE, Peter Handscomb, Ashton Turner and Kane Richardson have made way for the above inclusions, but all three have been included in the Australia A squad for the tour of England,” the chief selector further added.

Alex Carey will be the lone wicket-keeper, while Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis are the two all-rounders in the Aussie touring team led by Aaron Finch. In the bowling department, Pat Cummins, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mitchell Starc and Jhye Richardson are the pacer, while Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa will take care of the spin bowling duties.

"Mitchell Starc and Jhye Richardson have both been named subject to fitness. The advice from the CA medical team is they are progressing well and barring any setbacks will be available for selection ahead of our opening match against Afghanistan on June 1," Hohns concluded.

Australia’s 15-member squad for the 2019 World Cup

Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa.