A fracture in the left hand has ruled out Australia batter Travis Head from the first half of the World Cup in India with his participation in the rest of the tournament also uncertain, leaving the door open for the inclusion of in-form Marnus Labuschagne. The opener was struck on the left glove by a short delivery from Proteas seamer Gerald Coetzee in the fourth ODI against South Africa last week. Head coach Andrew McDonald revealed that Head, who will miss the three-match ODI series against India beginning on Friday, doesn’t require surgery but the Australian selectors need to deliberate on the risk of “carrying” him in the World Cup squad.
“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. 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,” McDonald said.
“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. But I can’t give you an exact time frame.” The World Cup starts on October 5 with the final scheduled for November 19.
Head’s injury leaves the door ajar for Labuschagne, who did not make Australia’s 15-member provisional squad. However, the Test star put up tremendous display in the ODIs against South Africa, finishing as the leading run-scorer.
“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,” McDonald said.
“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,” he added.
In Head’s absence, Mitchell Marsh is likely to be elevated to the opening position.
Australia take on India in Chennai on October 8 in their World Cup opener.
The last date to make changes to the squad is September 28, post which any changes would need approval from the ICC.