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Smith, Starc ruled out of South Africa tour ahead of World Cup

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Experienced batter Steve Smith and left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc have been ruled out of Australia’s tour to South Africa due to nursing injuries but are expected to achieve full fitness prior to the ODI series and World Cup in India.

Steve Smith is battling a wrist injury, sustained during the recently concluded Ashes, while Mitchell Starc is dealing with groin soreness since returning from the UK.

“The compacted Ashes series and the World Test Championship was a heavy load for the group, and we are taking a conservative approach to the build-up to the World Cup,” national selection panel chair George Bailey said today.

“With the World Cup the priority of the squad, it was determined on advice that it was best for Steve and Mitchell to join the group in India by which time we expect them to be fully fit and available for the Indian ODI series, plus the World Cup warm-up fixture.”

Starc’s injury paved the way for young fast bowler Spencer Johnson in the ODI squad after being selected for the T20I leg of the tour and is expected to make his debut for Australia in both formats.

Meanwhile, Marnus Labuschagne also found his way back into the ODI team as Steve Smith’s replacement, after being left out of Australia’s 18-player preliminary World Cup squad.

“We know Marnus at his best is good enough to hold down a spot in the one-day team, we just haven’t seen enough of it consistently in the role that we’d like him to do,” Bailey told reporters earlier this month.

However, in T20Is, Ashton Turner will fill in Steve Smith’s shoes.

Australia’s regular skipper Pat Cummins was also previously ruled out of the South Africa tour as he is recovering from a fractured wrist. Mitchell Marsh will lead the team in three ODIs and five T20Is against South Africa in his absence.

Australia is scheduled to play three T20Is on August 31, September 2 and September 3, followed by a five-match ODI series commencing on September 7.

READ: Sri Lanka Cricket accepts Lahiru Thirimanne’s retirement from international cricket

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