Birt and Smith named in Australian T20 squad

James Fiztpatrick | cricket20

Travis Birt has been rewarded with a call up to Australia's Twenty20 squad after enjoying a successful KFC Big Bash campaign for the Tasmanian Tigers.

Birt is joined by 20 year old SpeedBlitz Blues all rounder Steve Smith in the squad for Fridays Twenty20 International against Pakistan at the MCG.

The inclusion of Birt and Smith in the squad signals the Aussies intent of producing a successful Twenty20 side and challenge at this years Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies.

National selection panel (NSP) chairman Andrew Hilditch admitted the World Cup played a big role in the selection process for this squad.

"In selecting this squad, the NSP has taken into account the performances of players in international Twenty20 matches, the KFC Twenty20 Big Bash and also the correct balance of the side to be able to implement our match plans and tactics for Twenty20 cricket going into the world cup," said Hilditch.

"On this occasion there are significant changes between the one-day and Twenty20 side as we look at several players who could play a key role in our World Twenty20 campaign."

"The NSP (national selection panel) has always regarded Twenty20 cricket as a separate form of the game and this selection has highlighted some players who we think can have an impact in Twenty20 cricket such as Dirk Nannes, Shaun Tait, David Warner, Travis Birt and Steve Smith."

"Travis Birt has shown really good white-ball form for several seasons now and we have picked him with a view to him playing a specific role in the middle order in the Twenty20 side."

"Steve Smith is obviously an extremely exciting prospect and performed well for NSW in the Champions League Twenty20 and KFC Twenty20 Big Bash and gives us great flexibility with his ability to bowl leg spin, bat and field."

"Ryan Harris also is someone who has been in the plans of the NSP for the World Twenty20. Ryan's chances have been limited by injury but he's now back to full fitness and playing very well."

Australia squad: M Clarke (capt), T Birt, B Haddin (wkt), D Hussey, R Harris, M Johnson, S Marsh, D Nannes, S Smith, S Tait, D Warner, S Watson, C White.

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