Australia captain Aaron Finch cautioned against taking too much from Glenn Maxwell’s absence from nets on the eve of the World Cup semi-final clash with England.
The explosive right-hander has not been at his best in the tournament, scoring just 155 runs in nine innings in the tournament, and there have been suggestions he could be dropped.
Matthew Wade has just been approved to replace the injured Usman Khawaja in the squad and could be thrown straight into the XI.
Maxwell was not at training on the eve of the match but Finch played down the importance of his non-attendance.
“It’s a purely optional training session. You’re reading a bit too much into it,” he said.
“Maxi is someone who 50 per cent of the time comes down to optional sessions. Most of the bowlers aren’t here, Davey (Warner) isn’t here. We’ll name our side tomorrow at the toss, as usual.”
Whether or not Maxwell makes the cut at Edgbaston lies at head coach Justin Langer’s door but Finch would clearly be happy to have the all-rounder at his disposal.
“There’s runs around the corner,” said the skipper.
“He’d like to have scored more but he’s hitting the ball nicely. We know how destructive he can be when he’s in. His contributions in the field are up there with most runs saved and he got a great run out at Taunton against Pakistan. And the overs he’s bowled have been really, really key overs for us too.
“What he brings to the game is a still very exciting package.”
New Zealand had 3.5 overs to swell a position of 211 for five on the reserve day of their World Cup semi-final against India at Old Trafford.
Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor contributed half-centuries on Tuesday, the latter unbeaten on 67 alongside Tom Latham (three not out), when steady drizzle turned heavier at 2pm (5pm UAE time), forcing play to be deferred to Wednesday.
International Cricket Council regulations meant the Kiwis started where they left off, with the weather set fair in Manchester half an hour before the scheduled start.
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Australia will call on Peter Handscomb for the first time in over three months when they take on England in the World Cup semi-final.
The 28-year-old was axed from the original 15-man squad after the return of Steve Smith and David Warner from year-long ball-tampering bans but was drafted in as a replacement for the injured Shaun Marsh.
Now Usman Khawaja’s hamstring problem has opened up a place in the XI and head coach Justin Langer confirmed Handscomb would get a huge, belated chance to make his mark on the tournament on a grand stage at Edgbaston.
“I’ll tell you the truth: Peter will definitely play, 100%,” he said.
“He deserves it. He was so unlucky not to be in the initial squad after what he’d done to help us get to that point. He’s in good form, he’s played well for Australia A and gives us that nice balance through the middle order. He’s on top of his game.”
Langer also confirmed Matthew Wade would come into the squad in place of Khawaja, a decision the Australians had been deferring but now appear committed to.
Pending approval from the International Cricket Council’s technical committee, Langer even suggested the Tasmanian had a chance to break into the team.
“He’ll just come in as the official replacement for Usman Khawaja. Like everyone in the squad there’s potential for him to play, definitely,” he said.
“He’s a real seasoned pro and he’s had an unbelievable 12 months or so in domestic cricket. With his experience, if he plays, then we’re confident he’ll do a really good job.”
Marcus Stoinis provided some good news for Australia’s overworked medical team, passed fit to play after side trouble following a robust workout in the nets.
Langer was also called on to explain Australia’s barefoot walkabout at the ground on Monday. The side discarded shoes and socks for a lap of the outfield on arrival at Edgbaston, and stayed that way as they shared stories in a so-called “bonding circle”.
They attracted some amused reactions but for Langer, who has worked hard to rebuild the national side’s team ethos in the aftermath of the sandpaper scandal, it is all part of a wider project.
“It’s a nice thing to do. Haydos (Matthew Hayden) and I used to do it as a bit of a ritual before every Test match,” he said.
“It was just walking a lap of the oval with our shoes off. We could’ve done it with our shoes on and nobody would’ve said anything.
“If you go back 12 months there wasn’t much to be relaxed and chilled about in Australian cricket, was there? We went through a major crisis in our cricket. It didn’t just affect our cricket, it affected our country. We’ve got to work hard on being more humble in what we do and being focused on playing good cricket.
“It’s not the first time we have walked around the oval with our shoes off, that’s the truth, we have done it 15 times.”
Provided by Press Association Sports