Head coach Andrew McDonald has firmly established Marnus Labuschagne as Australia’s choice for the No.4 position in the upcoming World Cup, confirming his inclusion in the tournament opener against India.

Marnus Labuschagne made a remarkable return to World Cup contention last month, initially entering as a concussion substitute with a match-winning unbeaten 80. He solidified his comeback by scoring centuries in the first two ODIs against South Africa, a resurgence that followed his earlier omission from the five-match tour.

Labuschagne has featured in Australia’s last 17 one-day internationals and stands as the nation’s leading run-scorer in 2023 with 464 runs at an impressive average of 51.55. His transformation in approach since being dropped for the South Africa series is evident; he boosted his strike rate from 64.2 to 100 in a recent three-match series against India, with reduced dot ball percentage (40.6) and quicker boundary scoring (8.6 balls per boundary).

In Chennai, ahead of Australia’s World Cup opener against India, Coach McDonald praised Marnus Labuschagne’s remarkable journey, stating, “We were pretty clear on the way that we felt Marn needed to play to fit into the team. He went away and worked on that. He’s come back a different player, there’s no doubt about that. Even in the practice game against Pakistan, we saw the intent early, the scoring options, his innings are starting with great intent and we love seeing that.”

Coach McDonald further affirmed that if you’re considering certain starters, Labuschagne is indispensable in the top four, leaving no better alternatives.

In a conversation with the Unplayable Podcast before his inaugural World Cup participation, Labuschagne had expressed his belief in being Australia’s ideal No.4 for the tournament. He awaited the opportunity to prove his worth after being dropped.

“I did tell selectors when I wasn’t included: ‘I really feel like I’m the guy for you to bat at No.4. I know I’m not there, I know I haven’t performed like I wanted to but I know I’m the person for the job at that spot’,” Labuschagne said.

“I was feeling very confident. So it was just about if the opportunity was going to arise. I felt very confident that I would take it if it did come,” he added.

That opportunity materialized when Steve Smith’s wrist injury from the Ashes persisted and Cameron Green was sidelined due to concussion from a Kagiso Rabada bouncer in the first ODI against South Africa.

Travis Head remains sidelined in Adelaide due to a fractured hand, likely to miss the first half of the tournament. In his absence, Marnus Labuschagne’s leg-spin may become crucial during the World Cup, especially if conditions demand additional spin overs beyond what Adam Zampa and Glenn Maxwell can deliver.

“He can give us a chop out at certain times with one or two overs to mix and match a little bit through the middle overs, that’s a real possibility,” McDonald said.

“There was an investment in him in (the two) practice game and that was something that we wanted to see. We’ve seen him have an impact before with the ball in different formats so we feel as though he can do a role for us,” he added.

In preparation for their opening match at the same venue, Australia will conduct their training sessions at Chennai’s M.A. Chidambaram Stadium for the next three days.

Last Updated on October 5, 2023

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