Smith reminds us what we’ve been missing
STEVE Smith made a sparkling return to form in Australia's second World Cup warm-up match against New Zealand in Brisbane on Wednesday but David Warner wasn't so lucky.
Smith scored 22 in game one on Monday as he made his comeback from a 12-month suspension for the ball tampering scandal but on Wednesday he went to another level, plundering an impressive half-century as he finished on 89 not out from just 77 balls.
The former skipper blasted 26 runs from the final two overs of the innings and top scored for the hosts, who made 6/277 from their 50 overs.
In his return to the national team in Monday's first hit-out against the Kiwis, Warner was shifted to No. 3 to accommodate Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja at the top of the order.
He scored 39 but the Aussies changed things up on Wednesday by promoting him to face the new ball.
The reshuffle didn't pay off though, as the left-hander was out for a duck when he spooned Doug Bracewell to cover.
Khawaja came in at first drop to replace Warner at the crease and made a patient 56.
Glenn Maxwell was the other batsman to pass 50, registering 52, while Finch was out for 16 and Shaun Marsh, who batted at No. 4, left for 28.
Pat Cummins, Jason Behrendorff and Nathan Coulter-Nile were rested for Wednesday's clash after the trio each took three wickets in Monday's tight win.
Pace spearhead Mitchell Starc made his long-awaited return from injury after missing three months of cricket with a muscle tear.
The fast bowler was sidelined after the Canberra Test against Sri Lanka in February but has trained strongly off his long run in Brisbane this week.
Maxwell returned to the 12-man team for the unofficial match at No. 6 while Nathan Lyon took over the spinning duties from the rested Adam Zampa.
Warner belted 692 runs in 12 IPL innings before he joining the Australian squad, mounting a compelling case for a return to the top of the order despite the rousing form of Khawaja and Finch during an eight-game ODI winning streak.
Coach Justin Langer has remained coy on who will open the batting on June 1 against Afghanistan in Bristol, with this week's practice games in Brisbane no clear gauge of what to expect in England.
Meanwhile, fast bowler Jhye Richardson has been ruled out of the World Cup because of a shoulder injury.
Richardson dislocated his shoulder while fielding in an ODI against Pakistan in the UAE in March but selectors picked him in the World Cup squad, optimistic he would be fit in time for Australia's first game on June 1.
However, he hasn't been able to recover in time and was officially ruled out today.
"This is obviously very disappointing news for the team and for Jhye, who has been exceptional throughout his rehabilitation process," Australian physiotherapist David Beakley said.
"After his most recent assessment and attempting to bowl in the nets, it was clear that Jhye was not progressing as fast as required and therefore, in consultation with selectors, we made the decision to withdraw him from the squad.
"Jhye will continue with his rehabilitation and we will look to resume bowling in the coming weeks. At this stage we are still hopeful that he could be available for the Australia A tour of England."
Richardson will be replaced in the 15-man squad by South Australian seamer Kane Richardson.
Josh Hazlewood - who wasn't included in the initial squad because of fitness concerns - was overlooked.
Jhye Richardson has impressed with his ability to bowl at high pace and swing the ball away from right-handers since becoming a regular part of the Australian set-up last summer.
He made his ODI debut in January 2018, playing four games that year before earning a recall in January 2019 against India and establishing himself in the starting XI and winning World Cup selection.
He played all three one-dayers against the tourists at home and travelled to India for the return series, taking eight wickets in three outings on Indian soil.
However, his rise was cut short when he dislocated his shoulder in the outfield against Pakistan in Sharjah.