In a significant setback for the five-time champions Australia, left-handed batter Travis Head will be unavailable for the first half of the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023. Head sustained a severe hand injury during the fourth ODI of the recently-concluded five-match series against South Africa.
While Head’s injury does not require surgery, it poses a significant challenge to his participation in the prestigious 50-over event. Despite initially leading the series 2-0 after winning the first two matches, Australia ended up losing the series 2-3 to South Africa.
Coach Andrew McDonald explained that Head fractured a joint in his left hand during the fourth ODI in Pretoria. This unfortunate injury will sideline him for approximately a month, causing him to miss the front half of Australia’s nine-match group stage campaign in the World Cup.
McDonald stated that while the exact timeframe for Head’s recovery remains uncertain, the good news is that surgery will not be necessary. Regarding the decision to include Head in the squad for the opening half of the ICC event, McDonald commented, “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.”
The coach further confirmed that Head would not be available for the initial phase of the tournament.
“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-player squad. But I can’t give you an exact time frame,” McDonald added in his official statement.
Head’s absence in the first half of the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 will undoubtedly be a significant loss for the Australian team as they aim for their sixth title in the competition.
Also READ: Twitter Reactions – Marco Jansen’s all-round show steer South Africa to series-clinching win over Australia | SA vs AUS 2023, 5th ODI
Marnus Labuschagne frontrunner to Travis Head
Although Marnus Labuschagne has been a part of Australia’s ODI squad for most of his career, he was omitted from the World Cup team due to concerns about his batting “intensity” and “courage.” However, McDonald believes that there is a good chance for the right-handed batter to make a comeback.
“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.
“He’s made a significant shift in his intent at the crease and putting the bowlers under pressure than he was potentially 12 months ago. He’s struck at around 100 strike rate in this series (against South Africa).
“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,” the coach added further.