Warner, Head confirm as Aussies' T20I openers; Smith's role less clear ahead of T20 WC

by IANS |

Wellington, Feb 20 (IANS) David Warner and Travis Head seem to open the batting for Australia in the T20 World Cup after the duo was confirmed as the opening pair for the three-match series against New Zealand, beginning on Wednesday in Wellington.

Australia all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, captain for the three-match T20I series, also confirmed he will remain in the number three role he has made his own in the 20-over format over recent years.

With Glenn Maxwell excelling at number four and Tim David consistently contributing at six, Australia's top order appears to be well-established leading up to the World Cup in June.

Furthermore, with keeper-batters Josh Inglis and Matthew Wade (who will miss the start of the NZ series due to the birth of his third child) ready to fit in, along with allrounder Marcus Stoinis also in contention, Smith, who was rested during the West Indies series, faces uncertainty about his position in the team's lineup for the World Cup.

Despite admitting "our top order is pretty set" when asked about his team's planning, Marsh added that few of the 15-member squad in NZ are expected to play all three matches over the coming six days

"You'll have to find out, we'll announce our team at the toss. There will be certain guys that probably bat in different positions than they have done in the past, but ultimately we're here to win the series," Marsh said in response to a query about Maxwell and Smith's batting roles against NZ, as quoted by Cricket.com.au website.

"I've batted three for the last 18 months, so I'll be there to start with. And obviously Heady and Davey Warner have been amazing for us over the last period of time, so I daresay that will be the top three.

"I think players like Tim (David) are a rarity, and it (number six) is probably the hardest role within T20 cricket. We're lucky to have him. He's become a phenomenal player in that role and there's no doubt he's going to play a big part for us," he added.

As Australia prepares for their final bilateral T20I series against New Zealand before the World Cup, the return of star bowlers Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc adds further strength to the team.

Marsh, who has not been formally appointed Aaron Finch's replacement as Australia T20 captain and continues to lead on a series-by-series basis, joked about anticipating the chance to outrank Test and ODI skipper Cummins.

"I can't wait to tell him what to do," Marsh said of the role reversal. I'm normally filling in for his press conferences when he's had enough, so I'll get him back at some stage.

"But I also feel pretty lucky to have somebody like Pat as another leader within our group to fall back on, and the experienced heads we've got that will help me in certain times throughout this series.

"I just think their experience (Cummins and Starc), certainly at this level and the three of them (with Hazlewood) work together so well.

"We're lucky to have those guys back. Over the international schedule you don't see those guys play a lot of T20 international cricket together so to have them back and building towards a World Cup is great," said Marsh.

The three-match series against New Zealand is Australia’s final outing in the shorter format before the T20 World Cup in June in the United States and West Indies.

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