Men's ODI WC: Labuschagne replaces injured Agar as Australia announces final 15-member squad

New Delhi, Sep 28 (IANS): Australia today finalised their 15-player squad for the ICC Men's ODI Cricket World Cup, beginning on October 5, with Marnus Labuschagne replacing Ashton Agar the only change to the preliminary squad announced earlier this month.

Labuschagne was originally left out of Australia's preliminary squad for the tournament, but some good recent form in 50-over cricket against South Africa and India has provided the right-hander a late lifeline.

The absence of Agar in India will mean Australia head to the World Cup with just one specialist spinner in their squad, with experienced all-rounder Glenn Maxwell likely to support Adam Zampa as spin options.

Australia will effectively have a 14-man squad in the opening stages of the tournament with Australia will carry an injured Travis Head despite his broken hand with the hope of him being available midway through the tournament.

Head had been in the form of his life up until the injury, locking down his place at the top of the order alongside David Warner with 481 runs at 60 in the past nine months.

Chair of Selectors George Bailey said: "There has been one change to the original preliminary squad of 15 announced a month ago with Marnus replacing Ashton. This was a tough call but unfortunately, we couldn't carry both Travis and Ashton into the tournament with the injuries they have.

"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," he added.

Matt Short and Tanveer Sangha will remain with the squad in India until at least the conclusion of the warm-up matches.

Labuschagne, who was not included in the preliminary squad earlier this month, made a strong argument for inclusion over the course of the last eight games. He has been Australia's leading run-scorer with 421 runs at an average of 60 since his comeback to the team to replace Steve Smith, who missed the South African tour due to a wrist injury.

Labuschagne has also improved his ODI strike rate from 74.9 over the previous two years to 97.7 over his last eight games.

Ben Oliver, Executive General Manager of the National Team, said: "We are enormously proud of these 15 players who will represent Australia in the World Cup over the six weeks of the tournament and wish the squad all the very best.

"It has been a highly successful year for Pat and the squad with a home summer and an Indian Test tour leading into winning the World Test Championship, and then retention of the Ashes in England.

"We thank the players and the staff who have done an excellent job in maintaining their standards of preparation and performance over what has been a full 10 months and we’re looking forward to a highly competitive World Cup campaign.”

Australia World Cup squad: Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa



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Title: Men's ODI WC: Labuschagne replaces injured Agar as Australia announces final 15-member squad

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