Sydney, March 26 (IANS) Former Australia captain Steve Smith has pulled out of the upcoming white-ball series against Pakistan comprising three One-day Internationals (March 29, 31 and April 2) and a T20 (April 5) in Lahore.
He has been replaced by Queensland leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson in the squad. Swepson is already with the squad in Pakistan for the Test series.
Smith decided to skip the white-ball series to manage some niggling discomfort caused by a slight elbow injury.
The 32-year-old batting star, who was part of the team that won the third Test to emerge winners of the inaugural Benaud-Qadir Trophy 1-0 on Friday, will return home after deciding not to risk aggravating any problem in the left elbow, which he injured last year, according to reports in the Australian media.
Apart from Smith, Australia will miss Test captain Pat Cummins, Mitchell Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell. Pacer Kane Richardson too has pulled out due to a hamstring injury.
Withdrawing from the white-ball series against Pakistan would give Smith a few months to nurse his injuries and recover for the latter part of the year that includes the T20 World Cup in October and the 50-overs World Cup in Asia next year as he is not part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) after going unsold in the auction.
Smith said he was disappointed to miss the white-ball series against Pakistan but felt it was the right decision as he did not want to risk the niggles becoming a major issue later in the season.
“It’s disappointing to miss these matches against Pakistan but after chatting with the medical staff, I can see the need to take a break at this time,” Smith was quoted as saying by the Australian media.
“I do not regard this as a major issue but by staying on top of things now, we can ensure that it doesn’t become something more significant further down the line.”
Cricket Australia’s Head of Sports Science and Sports Medicine, Alex Kountouris, said: “Steve has been experiencing some minor discomfort in his left elbow during the latter stages of the Test series in Pakistan.
“Given he had an injury with the same elbow last year, we felt it important to manage this proactively.
“Withdrawing him from the white-ball matches means Steve will have the necessary time to rehabilitate his elbow to ensure his continuing availability and performance for Australia.”
Australia’s chief selector George Bailey said they did not pick a batter to replace Smith as they had options in the squad already in Pakistan.
“With the significant amount of cricket to come over the next 18 months, and the fact he has had an issue with the same elbow previously, it is appropriate for Steve to return home at the end of the Test series in Pakistan.
“We have opted not to name a replacement batter as we feel we have options within the existing squad, and Steve’s absence offers up additional opportunities to players within the group.
“We are excited because, with a T20 World Cup later this year and a 50-over Cricket World Cup in Asia next year, these four matches against a quality Pakistan team are a great chance for players to stake their claims for places in those tournaments,” he said.
Bailey said he was confident of Swepson doing well in the series.
“We have decided to include Mitchell Swepson in the white ball squad because it will offer us additional options in the bowling department on surfaces that may well assist spinners.
“Mitchell was part of our Twenty20 International squads in both the West Indies and Bangladesh last year, as well as at the T20 World Cup, and having been in Pakistan for the past month he is familiar with conditions. We know if called upon he will do an excellent job.”