A number of leading commentators have expressed their confusion over Australia's decision to drop Steve Smith for the first T20 against the West Indies on Wednesday night, with Cameron Green getting another start despite not being in the Aussie World Cup squad.
Australia's first match in the T20 World Cup is just over two weeks away, with the hosts welcoming the West Indies for a three-game series and some much-needed match practice.
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However the Aussies made the staggering call to drop Smith for Wednesday night's opening clash and push captain Aaron Finch down the batting order so Green could open.
Green has made a mockery of the selectors' decision to leave him out of Australia's World Cup squad, starring in the recent series in India as an opener.
With David Warner returning to the Aussie side against the West Indies after missing the India series, many thought Green would make way for Wednesday night's match because he's not in the World Cup squad.
However it was Smith who was the odd man out, watching on from the sidelines despite being in the World Cup squad.
Finch also made the staggering call to move himself down the order to No.4 so Green could continue to open.
“That won’t be the batting order, surely,” Mark Waugh said on Fox Cricket before the match.
“Cameron Green is not in the squad for the World Cup, so it seems strange that he would open.
“If you’re preparing for the World Cup, why would you open with him?
“Wouldn’t Aaron Finch be opening the batting to prepare for the World Cup?
“I find it a little confusing … who knows what’s happening there.”
Former Test wicket-keeper Brad Haddin added: “I find the decision odd, to be honest.
“They’re obviously thinking about this game only … it makes no sense otherwise to be playing Cameron Green when he hasn’t even been selected in this original squad.”
Waugh said he believes Australia's selectors have been caught out by the T20 form of Green.
“I mean, the Australian selectors would love to have Carmen Green in there, but they’ve been caught on the hop,” he said.
“Cameron Green’s performance in India has caught everyone on the hop.
“Now they’re thinking 'how do we get him in there', but they’re going to stay loyal with the players that picked originally.”
Finch had said before the match that he didn't think Green would be a late inclusion in the already-named squad for the World Cup, but his own move down the order will only fuel speculation.
“Greeny’s been good nick opening the batting, so we’re just trying a few things over the next couple of games,” Finch explained at the change of innings.
Afterwards he added: "It was just something different, we might change it up in the next match. We are going to keep tinkering with things until we get to the World Cup."
It can be hard to detect signal from noise while teams are experimenting & trying combinations but Smith's absence from today's game & Green playing despite not being in the World Cup squad is interesting. #AUSvWI
— Freddie Wilde (@fwildecricket) October 5, 2022
Aaron Finch has batted 244 times for Australia across all formats.
He has opened in 233 of those innings.
He has never batted at No.4, where he is listed to bat tonight.
It is less than two weeks out from the start of the World Cup.
— Daniel Cherny (@DanielCherny) October 5, 2022
Know it was coming 🙁 Very sad to see him getting dropped! At the end of the day, team comes first. Knowing the opportunities are limited, Hope smith utilitize it some time in near future #ausvwi #stevesmith https://t.co/nCNtvtbvSt
— Vijay (@Virendervijay88) October 5, 2022
rightly so.. his numbers in t20 are poor from 2020 pic.twitter.com/K7yRxRoTQR
— Kri (@KrishK74) October 5, 2022
Aaron Finch finds form after move down batting order
Despite his drop down the order, Finch was at the crease early after Warner and Mitch Marsh departed in Sheldon Cottrell's opening over.
Chasing the West Indies' total of 9-145, Australia were in dire trouble at 5-58 in just the eighth over.
Green (14 off 10 balls) had a short stay, with Glenn Maxwell and Tim David both making ducks after undisciplined leg-side swipes.
But Finch found a willing ally in Matthew Wade and the duo combined for a 69-run sixth-wicket stand against the gallant visitors.
Australia needed 11 to win from Cottrell's final over when wicketkeeper-batsman Wade (39 not out off 29) was dropped by Raymon Reifer with seven still needed.
Kyle Mayers then failed to cling on to another chance in the deep to get rid of Mitchell Starc off the fourth ball, before the paceman took advantage of his reprieve to get the hosts across the line with two off the penultimate ball.
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