Head’s slim World Cup hopes to be determined back in Australia

Further assessments back in Australia will determine Travis Head’s World Cup fate after the fractured hand he suffered in South Africa, but he remains a long shot to now make the tournament in India.
Matthew Short has been called up to the ODI squad for the three matches in India which precede the World Cup as batting cover although Marnus Labuschagne is the frontrunner to replace Head after his impressive return to the side in South Africa.

TV pictures during the final ODI in Johannesburg showed Head’s hand heavily bandaged and strapped following the blow he took from Gerald Coetzee at Centurion.

Speaking after the final ODI, head coach Andrew McDonald said that scans had determined Head would not need surgery but that he would definitely be ruled out of the first part of the World Cup and that the selectors would need to weigh up the risk of carrying him in the squad.

“The time frame is still a little bit loose at the moment, but the good news is he doesn’t require surgery as it sits at the moment,” McDonald said. “They’ll be an extended period of time out and we’ve just got to weigh up whether that time falls potentially with an option to carry him through the front half of the World Cup…so that’s a decision we’ll need to make in terms of the final 15.”

Meanwhile, Steven Smith (wrist), Glenn Maxwell (ankle and paternity leave) and Mitchell Starc (groin) are back in Australia’s squad for their trip to India after all three missed the tour of South Africa with injuries. Captain Pat Cummins, who rejoined the squad earlier this week, will also be available for those matches.
Short, who is yet to make his ODI debut, earned his T20I cap in South Africa and scored a match-winning 30-ball 66 in the second game of that series. Since then he has played two unofficial ODIs for Australia A against New Zealand A in Brisbane, and scored a half-century in his most recent innings.

With Smith, Maxwell and Starc back in the squad, there is no room for Aaron Hardie, Tim David and Michael Neser, the first two of whom made their ODI debuts during the South Africa tour. Ashton Agar, who is on paternity leave, will also miss the India series.

Left-arm quick Spencer Johnson, who was added to the ODI squad in South Africa as a replacement for Starc, will remain with the squad. So will Marnus Labuschagne, who wasn’t part of their South Africa contingent, but found a way into the squad thanks to Smith’s wrist injury, and then into the XI as a concussion sub for Cameron Green, before forcing himself back into the reckoning for the World Cup with scores of 80* and 124 in the first two ODIs.

“Think he’s made a significant shift in his intent at the crease and putting the bowlers under pressure from where he was potentially 12 months ago,” McDonald said. “We know Marnus is a quality player, he probably didn’t have the 12-18 months he would have liked in one-day international cricket but he’s come in and taken that opportunity, grabbed it with both hands, and no doubt he’ll be front and centre when it comes to the 15-man squad.”

Australia picked up further injury concerns in the final ODI with Nathan Ellis unable to finish his overs after suffered an adductor strain which would appear to put his place for the three India matches in doubt. Sean Abbott also split the webbing on his right hand although returned to complete his 10 overs. He is facing being sidelined for around a week according to McDonald so should not be a long-term concern.

Australia squad vs India Pat Cummins (capt), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tanveer Sangha, Matthew Short, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa