Cricket Australia announced the names of 20 nationally contracted players but one notable omission left former Australia captain Michael Clarke bemused.
Clarke asked the reason for leaving out the senior batsman Usman Khawaja from the list. The 33-year-old has fallen down the pecking order and not long ago he was considered as the lynchpin of Australia's batting line-up.
“I find it very hard to believe that someone with the talent and the runs behind him over 10 years isn’t in Australia’s top 20 players,” Clarke told Big Sports Breakfast as quoted by IANS.
Chief Selector Trevor Hohns shared his quandary over excluding Khawaja and hoped that the middle-order batsman will take this as an opportunity to bounce back emphatically.
Trevor acknowledged Usman's prowess and what he brings to the table but didn't go at length in explaining what went against him and how he didn't make the grade. Usman has a 40 plus average in both Test and ODI formats.
“It was the hardest decision (but) he just fell out of the bottom of the list. We know Usman is a fabulous player, I don’t have any doubts that he’ll accept the challenge to get back into the Australian side,” Hohns was quoted as saying on cricket.com.au.
Lukewarm performances in the ICC World Cup 2019 and then a forgettable Ashes made Usman's case weak and the tooth and nail competition for places possibly culminated in his exclusion.
“With many of the squad crossing into all three formats, it gives us the benefit of being able to add in specialists depending on the opposition and the conditions. The depth of this squad and the success of the past 12 months gives us that solid base.” Hohns added.
Khawaja's omission indicates how Justin Langer and company are looking ahead and putting their faith in the likes of Marnus Labuschagne and the comeback duo, Steve Smith and David Warner, to deliver the goods.
On the other hand, apart from Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Marcus Harris were other notable omissions from the coveted list.
New additions which were on the cards comprise Marnus Labuschagne – who had an impressive consistent run in the Tests since Ashes 2019 – Joe Burns, Ashton Agar, Kane Richardson and Mathew Wade.
Ashton Agar, Joe Burns, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa