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Khawaja, Head axed as Australia confirm England tour

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MELBOURNE: Australia’s limited-overs tour of England will go ahead this month at bio-secure venues, officials said on Friday, after its players were given government clearance to travel.

The confirmation ensures Australians will pad up for their first internationals in nearly six months, with Glenn Maxwell, Nathan Lyon and Marcus Stoinis recalled to the squad, while Usman Khawaja and Travis Head missed out.

Australia was originally scheduled to play three One-day Internationals and as many Twenty20 Internationals against England in July, but the trip was postponed due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Detailed bio-security plans have now been agreed to ensure it can go ahead, including government exemptions, which are required for Australians to leave the country. The team has also agreed to self-quarantine for 14 days on their return.

They depart from Perth on Aug 23 en route to Derby ahead of four practice matches — three T20s and a one-dayer. Beginning on Sept 4, Australia will play three Twenty20 Internationals in Southampton before moving to another bio-secure venue in Manchester for an equal number of one-dayers, all of which were scheduled to take place in July.

“We are very excited to be heading to England and to get back into the international fray,” said Cricket Australia’s interim chief Nick Hockley. “We congratulate the England & Wales Cricket Board [ECB] on leading the resumption of the game in a way that places the health and safety of players and staff at its core.”

His opposite number at the ECB Tom Harrison said Australia was owed ‘a significant debt of gratitude’ for making sure the tour went ahead.

“We owe a significant debt of gratitude to the players, staff and administrators of Cricket Australia for their efforts in getting this tour underway,” ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said in a statement.

“It will also provide much-needed financial aid at all levels of cricket in England and Wales as we work through the challenges in front of us.”

The tour would allow the ECB to complete all 18 international fixtures it had scheduled before the pandemic struck.

The Australian government on Wednesday granted travel exemptions for Aaron Finch and his men, Cricket Australia (CA) said while announcing a 21-member squad for the team’s first international tour since the Covid-19 outbreak began.

Australia, meanwhile, named the touring party with Maxwell, Lyon and Stoinis among notable inclusions, along with three debutants — Josh Philippe, Daniel Sams and Riley Meredith.

But there was no room for Head, Khawaja, Michael Neser, Ben McDermott or D’Arcy Short, who were all named in a preliminary 26-man squad last month.

Maxwell, who took a break last year to address mental health issues, returned to the side having recovered from an elbow injury.

“It’s vital for cricket that we do everything we can to keep the game going in these tough times. I am delighted with how the players have returned to their states from the break back in March. The whole squad has come back fitter and stronger, which is great testament to each of them,” said head coach Justin Langer. “We have a massive assignment ahead with World Cups, Test series against India and South Africa and the Ashes next year. We can’t wait to get back into it again.”

Squad: Aaron Finch (captain), Pat Cummins (vice-captain, Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Daniel Sams, Kane Richardson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2020

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