There will be no shortage of stars on show at the T20 Cricket World Cup, a "who’s who" of the best T20 players in the world.
Virat Kohli, Jos Buttler, Rashid Khan, David Warner, Nicholas Pooran, Rohit Sharma, Babar Azam, Josh Hazlewood, you name them.
But if many of the world's best will be in Australia for this spectacle that both fans of the game and online cricket betting enthusiasts alike are counting down the days to, there are a handful of wonderful players who won’t be there.
But why are they such big players for their sides? And why are they missing? Which player twice missed his flight and which one got injured on a ski board?
Let’s find out!
Role: Genuine all-rounder
Not many players in world T20 cricket can say they often bowl four overs, bat in the Top 6 and are also the side’s best fielder.
This lively all-rounder is a man for any situation, combining incredible athleticism with high skill levels, a cool head and an ability to perform at his best under the utmost pressure.
In many ways, he’s the glue that keeps CSK and India together in offering the sides great balance.
It’s true that since Axar Patel has emerged as a similar player in terms of skill set and improved remarkably over the past couple of years, India have something of a like-for-like replacement.
But it’s also true that if he were fit, Jadeja would almost certainly be picked ahead of him.
India were in the UAE playing the Asia Cup in September 2022.
Having beaten both arch-rivals Pakistan and minnows Hong Kong with Jadeja playing an important role in both wins, the players were taking some time off to relax ahead of their second clash with Pakistan in the Super 4 stage.
As part of an "adventure activity" at the team hotel, Jadeja was balancing on a ski board but lost his balance and ended up seriously injuring his already problematic knee.
He was instantly rushed to Mumbai for a serious knee operation by one of the country’s best surgeons.
Whereas the operation was as successful as it could be, the recovery time means there’s no chance of him being fit to play in Australia.
Many Indian fans and suits at the BCCI were left wondering why such adventure activities were necessary at such an important time with the World Cup coming up.
They weren’t the only ones.
Role: Death bowler
Death bowling has been a real problem for India over the past year with none of Mohammed Shami, Deepak Chahar, Arshdeep Singh or anyone else consistently getting it right in the final overs.
Bumrah is an absolute master of the yorker, the wide yorker or the dipping fuller one, cramping batsmen for room and not letting them free their arms.
His absence means India will have to reassess their bowling plans and try to find someone else they can trust for those crucial last few deliveries.
Sadly, there’s no quirky reason here, either.
Bumrah has had a recurrence of the back injury that had already kept him out of the Asia Cup in early September.
Even though he’d featured in the one-off Test match and other matches against England in England in July and returned to play against Australia at home in late September, his latest setback means he won't recover in time to feature at the World Cup.
Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar suggested it wasn’t that bad an absence because he rarely plays for India in T20Is anyway.
But they’d much rather he was there than that he wasn’t.
Role: Top-order batter
At 33 years old, Bairstow is a cricketer in his prime.
After taking his time to establish himself in England’s white-ball teams, these days he’s part of a big-hitting England batting line-up that can set any total and more to the point, chase any total.
Either opening or batting at three or four in T20s, he’s a fearless hitter who’s just as dangerous hitting through the off-side as he is using that bottom hand to deposit the ball into the boundary on the leg side.
He’s yet to reach three figures in T20Is but has three centuries at a domestic level and has scored eight T20I fifties in 60 innings.
His strike rate of 136 is right up there with the very best.
When the England management told Bairstow to take some time off in the middle of the summer after a busy schedule and play some golf, what happened next wasn’t what they had in mind.
After playing the third hole at Pannal Golf Club he slipped, tried to regain his balance and in the process, ended up snapping his ankle and putting his considerable body weight on his left leg, which snapped as well.
The injury will not only keep Bairstow out of the World Cup but also out of England’s first Test Tour of Pakistan in 17 years, which follows the World Cup.
He hopes to be fit to return to action sometime in 2023.
In Bairstow’s own words:
“I took a couple of steps down then slipped. By the time I crumpled into a heap, I was three-quarters of the way down. It’s all a blur, it happened so quickly. I yelped. Uncontrollable screams, the sort you hear on a rugby field.”
Team: West Indies
Role: Middle-order batsman
In a side full of all-rounders, Hetmyer is among the few classy specialist batsmen the West Indies possess.
A left-hander of immense power, he can not only hit the big shots but also move the ball into the gaps.
But his power and timing set him apart, and when in the mood, he can score heavily at a quick lick.
All of which means he’s a fine ‘finisher’, the role given to batsmen who are particularly adept at scoring runs in the death overs.
As if the Windies didn’t have enough problems already with poor form as a team and as individuals, the absence of Hetmyer is just one more problem for skipper Nicholas Pooran.
Some cricketers are the ultimate pros when it comes to their careers.
They train well, sleep well, eat properly, allow themselves recovery time, stay away from alcohol for the most part and make sure they make the most of what at best is a 10-12 international career, knowing that once their time is up, that’s their lot.
But that’s not necessarily a philosophy shared by Hetmyer.
Often criticised for not keeping up his fitness standards to the extent that he’d been dropped by the Windies on these grounds in the past, he’d actually improved in this regard over the past few months.
But this time, it wasn’t the extra cheeseburger or sneaky toasted sandwich that did for him.
Hetmyer was scheduled to fly out from the Caribbean to New York on Saturday, October 1 before catching a connecting flight to Australia.
Hetmyer cited personal or family reasons for not being able to board the Saturday flight, so the West Indies Board threw him a bone and told him they’d book him onto a Monday flight instead.
But they warned him that missing that one as well would result in him being left out of the World Cup squad.
When he missed that one too, with no real explanation, the West Indies Board had no option but to drop him and replace him with Shamarh Brooks.
Team: West Indies
Role: Mystery spinner
Since emerging as a mohawked mystery spinner with numerous variations back in 2009, Narine has been one of T20 cricket’s hottest prospects.
Capable of bowling sliders, knuckle balls and carrom balls, it’s his exceptional economy rate as much as his wicket-taking that made him a star for the West Indies, Kolkata Knight Riders and a handful of other T20 sides around the world.
Also used as an occasional pinch-hitter who strikes the ball cleanly in the Powerplay overs, he was an integral part of the Windies team that won the 2012 T20 World Cup, beating Sri Lanka in the final, in a match where Narine took three wickets.
In this case, there’s no colourful explanation for why Narine won’t be in Australia.
The first explanation for his absence is that he’s failed several fitness tests in the past, including the yo-yo Endurance Test.
But that isn’t a deal-breaker in its own right because, in some circumstances, the Medical Committee at the West Indies Cricket Board can give exemptions based on age or certain medical conditions.
But the most likely explanation is even simpler.
Narine hasn’t communicated his availability to the CWI regarding the World Cup or even played for them in any format in over three years.
Chief Selector Desmond Haynes summed it all up best by saying Narine was "disinterested in playing for his country."
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