Aussies close to naming ODI squad

Australia’s World Cup defence, working out who should be wicketkeeper and various workload dilemmas will weigh on selectors’ minds when they pick an ODI squad early next week.

England will remain in Australia following the Ashes for a five-match ODI series that starts on January 14 at the MCG.

Australia’s selectors are expected to settle on a small ODI squad, most likely featuring 13 players, prior to the fifth Test.

Matthew Wade is the incumbent one-day gloveman, having toured India earlier this year, but is considered a long shot to hold onto the gig.

Tim Paine replaced Wade in the Test XI earlier this summer and could easily do the same in the 50-over format. Paine is already Australia’s incumbent Twenty20 stumper.

Peter Handscomb is another option, having taken the gloves in a handful of ODIs this year, while uncapped South Australian Alex Carey is also in the mix.

Carey, billed as an Ashes bolter earlier this year and highly rated by Trevor Hohns’ panel, has backed up his maiden first-class ton with a couple of impressive T20 innings for the Adelaide Strikers.

The upcoming one-dayers are relatively meaningless compared to the current five-Test series but Australia are already mapping out their plans for the 2019 World Cup.

Steve Smith has made it clear winning the tournament is one of the big items left on his bucket list.

The Cup holders endured an underwhelming Champions Trophy campaign in England this year, with a rain-affected loss to the hosts ensuring they failed to progress beyond the group stage.

“It would be fantastic to retain the trophy we won so emphatically in 2015,” Smith wrote in his recently-released biography.

“The Champions Trophy in 2017 left me under no illusions about how tough a task it will be.”

Frontline pacemen Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins will almost certainly form part of Australia’s attack in 2019, provided they are fit.

The trio will be keen to play all five games in next month’s ODI series but it wouldn’t surprise if they are rested at some point.

Starc remains bothered by his bruised heel but is confident he will be fit for the fifth Ashes Test, plus selectors will bear in mind there’s a Test series in South Africa starting in March.

Meanwhile, Australia are set to reveal their squad for the SCG finale on Saturday. A second spinner will almost certainly be summoned to Sydney.

The tourists have already announced a 16-man squad for the ODI series, provisionally including vice-captain Ben Stokes.

Stokes remains unlikely to feature as he continues to sweat on a verdict from UK prosecutors regarding the Bristol incident in September.

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