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Selectors ponder scheduling nightmare

Cricket

National selectors will this week plot a path through the logistical nightmare created by next month's cramped cricket schedule.

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Australia will take part in three different series in February. Each series will be held in a different country; each series will be a different format.

It starts with a trip across the Tasman for a three-match ODI series, which runs until February 5. A home three-match Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka follows from February 17-22.

Australia’s four-Test series against India starts on February 23 in Pune, with a pre-tour training camp to be held in Dubai. It means Steve Smith will be unable to captain the national T20 side.

Vice-captain David Warner, who had described the overlap as “very, very poor scheduling” last week, will also be in India. It remains unclear who will lead Australia’s T20 team against Sri Lanka.

Aaron Finch is likely to be the most-experienced member of the Twenty20 squad and is a former national T20 captain. However, it would be an awkward discussion, given selectors dropped Finch from the ODI side earlier this month and last year stripped him of the T20 captaincy; wanting Smith to lead at the Twenty20 World Cup.

Travis Head, who has played 17 ODIs but overlooked for India despite the backing of Ricky Ponting, is another option likely to be discussed.

“He’s ready if given the chance,” paceman Josh Hazlewood said of Head.

“He’s had a little taste of it (captaining South Australia) at domestic level.

“He’s (got) quite a smart cricket brain for such a young guy. If you give him the opportunity, I think he’ll do well.”

Selectors are yet to formally discuss who will captain Australia next in the shortest format. They won’t turn their attention to that T20 squad until the end of the regular BBL season, which wraps up this weekend.

The more-pressing issue for Trevor Hohns’ panel is finalising an ODI squad for the trans-Tasman series. Injuries to Chris Lynn and Mitch Marsh have complicated proceedings, but the touring party is expected to be named soon after tomorrow night’s third ODI against Pakistan in Perth.

Cricket Australia will then finalise plans for the trip to Dubai. Steve O’Keefe and Matt Renshaw are among the players set to arrive at the end of this month, but many members of the Test side won’t depart until the trans-Tasman series is over.

“Even though it’s a different format and in different conditions – if you are playing well, you’re high on confidence,” Hazlewood said, when asked about preparations for Australia’s bid to snap a nine-Test losing streak in Asia.

“We’re still going to have an opportunity in Dubai and India to get ready and bowl enough in those conditions to be ready.”

-AAP

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