Faulkner, Khawaja miss Champions Trophy squad
CRICKET: Australia has pulled a Champions Trophy selection shock, with one-day mainstay James Faulkner and maligned batsman Usman Khawaja both copping the axe ahead of the June tournament.
The pair were the biggest omissions from the 15-man squad named on Thursday, with injured duo Mitchell Starc (foot stress fracture) and Chris Lynn (shoulder) both given the chance to prove their fitness.
Steve Smith will lead the team chasing an unprecedented third Champions Trophy title, but the axing of Faulkner - Australia's primary death bowler, a devastating lower-order batsman and the star of their World Cup triumph two years ago - comes as a huge shock.
National selector Trevor Hohns said the seam-bowling all-rounder had been squeezed out to accommodate the likes of in-form trio James Pattinson, Pat Cummins and John Hastings.
"James has been a consistent performer for the one-day squad for several years, however with players such as Pattinson, Cummins and John Hastings coming back to full fitness and the emergence of Marcus Stoinis, James was squeezed out of the squad and an unlucky omission," he said.
Australia has picked a squad packed with fast bowlers, led by Starc, the fit-again Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Pattinson.
And while there is a risk in selecting the injured Lynn and Starc, Hohns was optimistic about their chances ahead of Australia's tournament opener on June 2 in the UK.
"Our medical staff will continue to monitor Mitchell and Chris's recovery from their respective injuries but we are hopeful they will be fit in time for the team's departure on May 18," Hohns said.
NSW veteran Moises Henriques has been rewarded for his outstanding domestic season, where he finished second on the run scorers list in the one-day competition.
"Moises finished off the domestic season very well and has had a great start in the Indian Premier League," said Hohns.
"We believe Moises' batting has improved significantly in the past six months and he will provide us with a strong option should he be selected."
Australia opens its tournament against New Zealand at Edgbaston.
Smith (capt), Warner, Cummins, Finch, Hastings, Hazlewood, Head, Henriques, Lynn, Maxwell, Pattinson, Starc, Stoinis, Wade, Zampa.