Sport

ICC World T20 2016: Australia's spin ranks thin after selectors buck trend

The logic applied to dump Matthew Wade as wicketkeeper for the World T20 was not extended to strengthen Australia's slow bowling stocks, leaving the team dangerously thin for spin in India.

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In picking uncapped duo Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar, and part-timer Glenn Maxwell, Australia bucked a trend in a tournament where several of the leading contenders have opted for three frontline tweakers on India's spin-friendly tracks.

There was again white-ball heartache for the country's premier slow bowler Nathan Lyon while leg-spinner Cameron Boyce was unlucky to be jettisoned after playing a big part in Australia's build-up to the event.

Axed: Matthew Wade's future in the international arena is in doubt after he was dropped as Australian wicketkeeper for ...
Axed: Matthew Wade's future in the international arena is in doubt after he was dropped as Australian wicketkeeper for the World T20. Photo: AP

Agar, who selection chairman Rod Marsh said was the last man picked in the 15-man squad, was handed a berth despite bowling only nine overs in the Big Bash. He was not given the ball in half of Perth's eight games.

Marsh conceded Agar may not even play at all.

"We thought the 15th player, and in some ways he was the 15th player chosen, should go to another spin bowler and we thought that Ashton was the best package as the spin bowler," Marsh said.

"I know he didn't bowl a lot during the Big Bash but we've been tracking his progress and we had him since 2013 as you all know and he's coming along nicely and he'll continue to develop.

"Maybe at the end of the tournament if we get that far and the pitches are turning, maybe it'll prove to be a wise decision. Maybe he won't play, I don't know."

Lyon continues to be out of favour in the limited-overs formats despite clearly being Australia's best spinner but Marsh said he had not been pigeon holed as a Test specialist.

Lyon's World T20 audition lasted just one over, albeit an expensive one, at the hands of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. He lost out again to Maxwell, who has hit an alarming rut with bat and ball since an injury late in the summer.

"Maxwell is the off-spinning man for the T20, and we weren't going to carry two of them, we found that out," Marsh said.

Marsh said Zampa received the nod over Boyce in a "very tight call", but despite their superior form to Agar selectors did not want to fly over two leggies.

Wade's last-minute axing casts doubt over his future in the international arena. The Victorian was shaping as the heir apparent to Brad Haddin but has now been overtaken by Peter Nevill in two of the three formats.

Marsh refused to guarantee Wade's position in the ODI side but said there was no reason why he shouldn't be playing one-day cricket. 

Wade has the better record with the bat than Nevill in Twenty20s but, in breaking with modern practice, selectors opted for the wicketkeeper with superior glovework.

"​I think we needed the best wicketkeeper for India," Marsh said.

Aaron Finch retained his place in the squad despite losing the captaincy to Steve Smith, but the opener is no certainty to be in Australia's best XI. David Warner, Usman Khawaja and Shane Watson are all options to open.

Finch was told of his axing as captain on Saturday by Marsh but is believed to have been expecting the axe to fall.

"When we knew Steve was going to be available for T20 cricket we thought it the right thing, all of us," Marsh said.

Squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, James Faulkner, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Nevill, Andrew Tye, Shane Watson, Adam Zampa.