Australia begin their series against Pakistan in UAE with a lot of uncertainty over the make-up of their playing 11, with fitness issues and possible unavailability of some due to their commitment to the ongoing Champions League T20 making coach Darren Lehmann’s job that much tougher.
Shane Watson has already been ruled out of the tour due to a calf injury. Captain Michael Clarke is in a race against time to get fit by the time the Test series start at the end of the month while left-arm quick Mitchell Johnson is recovering from a rib injury.
To top it all, Glenn Maxwell, Pat Cummins and Cameron Boyce are playing for the Kings XI Punjab, Kolkata Knight Riders and Hobart Hurricanes respectively in the CLT20 semi-finals, and possibly in the final as well, and might not be available for the one-off T20 match against Pakistan in Dubai on Sunday.
Coach Lehmann is aware of the situation but just wants to get on with the job and make do with whatever resources he has.
“We have had a few injuries. You can never control injuries, you just deal with them. It just gives someone else an opportunity. We will just wait and see what we get,” Lehmann said at the ICC Academy yesterday.
The situation with players’ availability is another factor after Cricket Australia decided to give CLT20 priority over an international fixture.
Lehmann, though, is fine with it.
“It is what it is. This is just part and parcel of the world game these days. We have enough players to play the game, and I don’t need to suit up. Whoever comes and plays, plays,” he said.
The one player the coach is looking forward to have in his ranks is all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who performed admirably for Perth Scorchers in the Champions League, scoring 126 runs and taking two wickets from four games.
“Mitchell Marsh has been exciting. He has just arrived, we will see how he has been doing. “He has been fantastic for us in Zimbabwe (triangular series) and we need to give him as many games as possible,” Lehmann said.
In Zimbabwe, Marsh smashed 222 runs and picked up three wickets from five ODIs.
Even though it is a bilateral series against Pakistan, across formats and in subcontinent-like conditions, the Australians will play with one eye on the 2015 World Cup which will be played Down Under and in New Zealand. The focus, however, will remain on winning every game in the UAE.
“We are always looking ahead. But conditions are going to be different here compared to what we will get at the World Cup.
“We just need to play well here and will pick a playing 11 that will win games in UAE. We have one eye on the World Cup but our focus is to win games here,” he said.