Nathan Ellis
Nathan Ellis is keen to make up for lost opportunities in Australia's T20 series in New Zealand. Image by AP PHOTO
  • cricket

Ellis back and eager to push T20 World Cup claims in NZ

Ben McKay February 18, 2024

There’s no one keener for Australia’s T20 series with New Zealand than Nathan Ellis.

The 29-year-old quick was a frustrated spectator as Australia beat West Indies last week, still sidelined from a freakish Big Bash injury suffered diving on a ball in the field.

However, Ellis has won his fitness race to kit up for Australia’s last T20 series before June’s T20 World Cup.

Nathan Ellis
A fielding injury in the BBL forced Nathan Ellis to miss the home T20 series against West Indies.

“I was spewing to miss that West Indies series,” Ellis said from Wellington’s Basin Reserve.

“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.”

The injury also kept alive a weird quirk of Ellis’ international career: in 20 matches for Australia, he’s not once played in front of a home crowd.

“It would have been my first home series: I was really excited to play in Australia for Australia,” he said.

Instead, the road warrior must prove his worth overseas again if he’s to go to the West Indies-United States hosted tournament.

“Security (of a team berth) isn’t there. I don’t think it’s ever there,” he said.

“It’s 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.”

The trans-Tasman rivals will play three T20s, beginning Wednesday in Wellington, before a two-Test series.

While the main game for both is the Test series, coach Andrew McDonald says there’s plenty to be learned from the white-ball hitout.

“We’ve got a few different pieces we want to maybe experiment with a little bit and see where they land, hopefully give us a bit of clarity,” he said.

Rotation is expected, giving plenty of chances for Australia to settle on a preferred batting lineup and a 15-man squad.

Australia’s full squad is yet to land in New Zealand, with Adam Zampa unexpectedly waylaid with a logistics issue but expected to land inside 24 hours and contend for game one.

Matthew Wade will link up with the squad in Auckland for matches two and three, as his partner was due to give birth.

Matthew Wade
Matthew Wade will miss the opening T20 International in Wellington.

Big-hitter Marcus Stoinis has withdrawn with back soreness, with Spencer Johnson announced late on Sunday as his replacement. 

Aaron Hardie was originally lined up to take Stoinis’ place, only to suffer a setback on Sheffield Shield duty with Western Australia.

New Zealand head into the T20 matches after sweeping a two-match Test series with an understrength South Africa.

Their T20 squad is missing a number of big names, led by Kane Williamson, who, like Wade, is awaiting a new addition to his family.

A foot issue will keep out stalwart Daryl Mitchell, while coach Gary Stead announced on Sunday that Matt Henry (hip soreness) and Tim Seifert (torn abductor) would also miss.

“There’s no doubt Kane and Daryl are big parts of our T20 side. When they’re not there you don’t look quite as strong,” he said, noting it would “create opportunity” for recalled pair Will Young and Ben Sears.

Also on Sunday, Stead named the Black Caps squad for the Test series, including Williamson and Mitchell, but not Trent Boult.

The legendary seamer will play Australia in the Eden Park T20s but not the Tests given a lack of red-ball cricket.

Paceman Scott Kuggeleijn has been named in a 14-man Test squad after Kyle Jamieson suffered a summer-ending back injury.