Hardie ruled out of NZ with Johnson called in


Aaron Hardie has missed out on an opportunity to press his T20 World Cup case after being withdrawn from the New Zealand series with a minor calf issue as Australia’s revolving door of white-ball selections continues with Spencer Johnson called in at short notice.

Hardie was not originally selected for the three-match series starting in Wellington on Wednesday but was called into the squad on Friday when Marcus Stoinis was ruled out with a back injury. He was playing in Western Australia’s Sheffield Shield game against Tasmania in Hobart and did not travel with the squad on Saturday.

He was due to fly to Wellington on Monday morning and was set to miss day four of the Shield clash. But he experienced calf tightness while bowling on the second day and was sent for a scan.

It is understood the initial scan did not reveal any damage but he was kept off the field on day three as a precaution and was also withdrawn from the New Zealand series. WA coach Adam Voges confirmed he will be available to bat on the final day if required.

“He’s got a tight calf,” Voges said. “It’s more precautionary. He’ll bat if required tomorrow. Hopefully, it’s nothing too significant.”

Cricket Australia confirmed on Sunday night that Johnson would be called into the squad. Australia will also be without vice-captain and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade for the opening match of the series as he has stayed in Hobart for a few extra days due to the birth of his first child. He is expected to be available for the second and third T20Is in Auckland on Friday and Saturday.

Matthew Short is also returning from a low-grade hamstring injury while Nathan Ellis is coming back from a rib injury. He is behind Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc in Australia’s T20 fast bowling pecking order, with all three set to play in the New Zealand series after resting for all or part of the series against West Indies. Ellis is hopeful of bedding down a berth in Australia’s 15-man World Cup squad.

“I was spewing to miss that West Indies series,” Ellis said in Wellington on Sunday. “For me now it’s time to hit the ground running and put my name forward for the World Cup.

“There’s not a lot of cricket outside of IPL [before] the World Cup after this series. Security [of a spot] isn’t there. I don’t think it’s ever there. It still feels like a dream to play for Australia so I just want to relish every opportunity I get. The goal is to play a World Cup for Australia so I’ll be doing my best to keep my hat in the ring.”

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