No show ... Glenn Maxwell is in the gun.
No show ... Glenn Maxwell is in the gun.

Big Show bombshell: Aussie X-factor to cop axe

Australia is considering making shock changes for its World Cup semi-final showdown with arch rivals England, including the stunning decision to halt Glenn Maxwell's lacklustre campaign.

All-rounder Marcus Stoinis passed a fitness test overnight and is set to play against England with two side strains.

Stoinis bowled at full pace in a "heated" net session, which Langer observed intently.

Handscomb is certain to replace No.3 Usman Khawaja (hamstring) in a reshuffled batting order, but the potential bombshell is Maxwell's omission for Wade.

Langer and Maxwell walked two laps of Edgbaston barefoot deep in conversation on Monday with Australia's coaches left frustrated by the destructive batsman's repeated failings against short balls.

 

Maxwell then faced up to a string of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins bouncers in the Edgbaston nets, which he didn't appear to enjoy.

Handscomb has been told by Langer that he will bat at either No.4 or 5 against England.

Steve Smith will probably bat at No.3 if Maxwell plays, and No.4 if Wade comes in, given Wade is viewed as a top-order specialist.

 

Matthew Wade has been in blistering form for Australia A. Picture: Getty
Matthew Wade has been in blistering form for Australia A. Picture: Getty

Keeper Alex Carey is also likely to be promoted, either up one or two places from No.7, after thumping 85 (69), 71 (72) and 38 not-out (27) in his past three games.

That means Australia is likely considering these two batting orders;

1) David Warner, Aaron Finch, Matthew Wade, Steve Smith, Peter Handscomb, Alex Carey and Marcus Stoinis, or,

2) David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith, Peter Handscomb and then Carey, Maxwell and Stoinis, who are all interchangeable.

While selectors need to find a new No.3 to replace Khawaja, they have confidence in Smith given his production at No.3 in crunch games during the 2015 World Cup.

 

Marcus Stoinis proved his fitness during a fiery net session. Picture: Getty
Marcus Stoinis proved his fitness during a fiery net session. Picture: Getty

Smith made 65 (69) in the quarter-final against Pakistan, 105 (93) in the semi-final against India and he hit the winning runs to finish unbeaten on 56 (71) in the final against New Zealand.

The semi-final attack is unlikely to be affected by the batting changes with seamers Patrick Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jason Behrendorff and spinner Nathan Lyon set to play together for the fourth consecutive time.

Australia has not won at Edgbaston in 18 years, while England has won its past 10 at the Birmingham venue, across all formats, in a streak dating back to 2014.

 

Peter Handscomb will be parachuted into the team, despite being a late injury replacement for Shaun Marsh. Picture: Getty
Peter Handscomb will be parachuted into the team, despite being a late injury replacement for Shaun Marsh. Picture: Getty

Langer said Handscomb "deserved" his World Cup debut.

"He was so unlucky not to be in the initial squad after what he'd done to help us get to that point," Langer said.

"He's in good form, he played well for Australia A, he gives us nice balance through that middle order, he's got great temperament, he plays the spin well and he's on top of his game.

"So he'll definitely play."

Handscomb replaced Shaun Marsh (broken arm) in the 15-man squad last week. Paperwork was set to be lodged overnight for Wade to replace Khawaja.

Stoinis's ridiculous recovery just four days after suffering a right side strain kept Mitchell Marsh out of the squad.

 

Australia coach Justin Langer has some big decisions to make ahead of the semi-final. Picture: AP
Australia coach Justin Langer has some big decisions to make ahead of the semi-final. Picture: AP

While Stoinis has been below his best since recovering from a left side strain, which is still hampering him, Langer was happy to back in Australia's reigning ODI player of the year in a semi-final.

"The last seven months (is where I get confidence from)," Langer said.

"We've got a group of players that have been together for the last six or seven months.

"Everyone in the squad has played their role, and played a part of our success. That's where I get my confidence that they'll be good for the World Cup semi-final."

 

 

Langer said the teams were so evenly balanced that the "champions" would stand up and make the difference.

"Mentally strong players, the champions, stand up in big games," Langer said .

"So we are lucky to have mentally strong players, and so are England, and that is why it is going to be such a great game.

"England with all the history of the past few years and we have been coming good in the past six months.

"The champions stand up in these big games so we'll see who has got the best champions in this one."