Cameron Green could be inching closer to a last-minute World Cup call-up after retaining his place in the Australian T20 squad for upcoming games against the West Indies.
David Warner, who Green replaced as opener in three recent matches in India, and injured trio Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Starc all return for the two matches in Queensland next week.
Selectors have named a 16-man squad, including Green, after he pounded two half-centuries with the bat in the three matches against India when asked to open with captain Aaron Finch.
While the boom all-rounder is not yet in Australia’s 15-man squad for the World Cup, which begins in November, he has made a strong case for inclusion should selectors look to make any replacements.
Warner was rested from the series against India before a bumper workload, while Marsh (ankle), Stoinis (side) and Starc (knee) return having missed the three matches with injuries.
“We have and are taking a cautious approach with the World Cup on the near horizon,” selection chief George Bailey said.
“To have four key players return gives us the ability to take a conservative path with any minor issues and resolve those well in time for the World Cup.”
Bailey also said he expected bowling duo Kane Richardson and Ashton Agar, who flew back early from India having picked up minor injuries and who are in the World Cup squad, would return for the following three-match series against England.
Green stands ready to replace any injured players, however, having blasted the fastest T20 half-century against India in the third and final match in Hyderabad last weekend, whacking 52 off just 21 balls opening the batting in Warner’s absence.
The innings came after Green made 61 in the opening match, just his second T20 for Australia.
Australian coach Andrew McDonald said Green stood up as needed and he knew where to turn should he need World Cup reinforcements.
“I think he’s certainly embracing the challenge of opening. We asked him to show intent at the top of the order and everything we have seen suggests he’s doing that,” he said.
“It’s fortuitous (with Warner absent) but he’s taken that opportunity and that’s all you can do.
“He’s taken on some of the best bowlers in world cricket. To do it two out of three times is very impressive and bodes well.
“If anything were to happen with someone in the (World Cup squad) 15, I think it’s obvious that we‘ve got some good depth there.”
Australian T20 squad to face West Indies:
Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Pat Cummins, Tim David, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Daniel Sams, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.
October 5: Australia v West Indies, Metricon Stadium
October 7: Australia v West Indies, The Gabba