NEW DELHI: Australia‘s World Cup campaign has been dealt a significant blow as opening batter Travis Head has been ruled out of the first half of the tournament in India due to a fracture in his left hand.
The extent of his participation in the remainder of the competition remains uncertain, creating an opportunity for in-form cricketer Marnus Labuschagne to potentially join the squad. Head sustained the injury during the fourth One Day International (ODI) against South Africa when he was struck on the left glove by a short delivery from Proteas seamer Gerald Coetzee.
Head coach Andrew McDonald confirmed that Head will miss the upcoming three-match ODI series against India, set to commence on Friday. Fortunately, Head will not require surgery for his injury, but the Australian selectors will need to carefully consider the risk of “carrying” him in the World Cup squad.
“The timeframe is still a bit uncertain at the moment, but the good news is he doesn’t require surgery as it stands now. There will be an extended period of time out, and we’ve just got to weigh up whether that time (out) coincides with an option to carry him through the first half of the World Cup,” McDonald explained.
“He won’t be available for the front half for sure, so that’s a decision we’ll have to make for the final 15. But I can’t provide an exact timeframe.”
The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup is scheduled to commence on October 5, with the final slated for November 19.
Head’s unfortunate injury has created an opportunity for Marnus Labuschagne, who was not initially included in Australia’s 15-member provisional squad. Labuschagne, a renowned Test cricketer, delivered a remarkable performance in the ODIs against South Africa, finishing as the leading run-scorer.
“I can’t speak on behalf of the selection panel and confirm his place in the World Cup 15, but it’s undoubtedly looking promising,” McDonald stated.
“He has significantly improved his intent at the crease and has put the bowlers under more pressure than he did potentially 12 months ago. He has a strike rate of around 100 in this series.
“We are aware that Marnus is a high-quality player, and perhaps he didn’t have the 12-18 months in one-day cricket that he would have preferred.
“But he has undoubtedly seized the opportunity, and there’s no doubt he will be at the forefront when it comes to that 15-man squad down the line,” he added.
In Head’s absence, Mitchell Marsh is expected to be elevated to the opening position. Australia is set to play their World Cup opener against India in Chennai on October 8.
The deadline for making changes to the squad is September 28, after which any modifications would require approval from the International Cricket Council (ICC).(With PTI inputs)