Marnus Labuschagne has been sensationally recalled into Australia’s final 15-man squad for the ODI World Cup.
The star batter was earlier this month dropped from the Aussie squad and was only able to get a look back into the team as a concussion substitute during Australia’s Tour of South Africa.
Now he has roared back into the final squad with selectors rolling the dice with Adam Zampa as the only front-line spinner in the squad.
It is a particularly massive gamble given the spin-friendly conditions in India for the World Cup — leaving part-timer Labuschagne, injured batter Travis Head and allrounder Glenn Maxwell as Australia’s back-up spinners.
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Labuschagne has snuck into the squad after Ashton Agar on Thursday pulled out after suffering a calf injury.
Labuschagne was dropped because his role was viewed to be identical to Steve Smith, with selectors reportedly believing only one player was needed in the role of being the back-bone of the Aussie batting order — surrounded by power hitters.
He is now expected to be parachuted straight into the Aussie batting order to bat at No. 4 during Australia’s tournament opener against India on October 8.
It is a remarkable comeback for Labuschagne who was only put on the plane for Australia’s Tour of South Africa because Steve Smith suffered a wrist injury.
Labuschagne said three weeks ago he wasn’t “shocked” when he was dropped from the World Cup squad but had committed to making himself a better ODI player.
“I have been really disappointed with how I have played my one-day cricket the last 10 or 12 games, I haven’t shown the courage or intensity I would have liked,” he said.
“I said to myself when I came back from the Ashes, I had three or four days off then I went back to the drawing board and thought about what I needed to improve in my one-day game.
“It’s gone really downhill and I didn’t like that. I wasn’t too shocked when I was dropped. I said that to the selectors.
“I did say I still wanted to be that person batting in the middle order. Then you have to sit tight and wait for your opportunity and when it comes you have to be ready.”
The addition of the extra batter means leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha will only be able to be selected as Australia’s No. 2 spinner if there is an injury in the Aussie squad.
Selectors have gambled with being able to carry Head until he returns from injury.
If selectors had decided to cut Head from the finalised 15-player squad, he would not have been able to be added back in unless there was an injury.
However, Head can’t be replaced with another player now that they have decided to carry him in the squad until he recovers.
“This was a tough call but unfortunately, we couldn’t carry both Travis and Ashton into the tournament with the injuries they have,” Chair of Selectors George Bailey said.
“We have made the decision to carry Travis through the early stages with the aim of him being available around the mid part of the tournament.
“He has been a really important player in this ODI team and we are hopeful his return can provide a positive impetus as it gets to the business end of the tournament.
“Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell are progressing well through the rehabilitation of their respective injuries and it was pleasing to see them return to the playing eleven last night.”
Australia ODI World Cup squad
Pat Cummins (c)
*Batsman Matthew Short and leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha have been pencilled in as Australia’s travelling reserves.