In a blow to the five-time ODI World Cup champions Australia, opening batter Tarvis Head has been ruled out of the first half of the tournament. The Aussie batter suffered a fracture to his left hand during the fourth ODI of the just-concluded five-match series against South Africa. The Aussies will now mull over bringing back Marnus Labuschagne into the team.
Team coach Andrew McDonald has confirmed that Head does not require surgery but his month-long recovery will put him out of the first half of the tournament. "The timeframe is still a bit loose at the moment but the good news is he doesn't require surgery as it sits at the moment. Speaking on whether to take Head for the opening half of the event, McDonald said, "There will be an extended period of time out and we've just got to weigh up whether that time (out) falls with an option to carry him through the front half of the World Cup."
The coach confirmed Head's unavailability for the said period. "There's no doubt he won't be available for the front half, so that's a decision we'll have to make for the final 15(-player squad). But I can't give you an exact time frame," McDonald added.
Labuschagne back into the scheme of things
This puts Marnus Labuschagne back into contention for a World Cup spot. Despite playing a majority of Australia's ODI games since his debut, Labuschagne was not included in the World Cup team on grounds of his lack of 'intensity' and 'courage' in batting. But coach McDonald thinks the right-handed batter's comeback is likely. "I can't talk on behalf of the selection panel and lock him away in the World Cup 15 but it's no doubt looking likely. "He's made a significant shift in his intent at the crease and putting the bowlers under pressure (more) than he was potentially 12 months ago. He's struck at around 100 strike rate in this series.
"We know Marnus is a quality player and he probably didn't have the 12-18 months in one-day cricket that he would have liked. But he's no doubt taken that opportunity with both hands and there's no doubt he'll be front and centre when it comes to that 15-man squad down the track," the coach said.
Australia named a provisional 15-player squad for the World Cup on August 7. The teams can make changes to their squads up until 28th September, following which they would need approvals from the ICC.