David Warner’s blistering opening partnership with Mitch Marsh that put Australia’s World Cup bid back on track is set to be ditched with the return of Travis Head.
Head, back with the team after fracturing his left hand in a warm-up series against South Africa, will move straight back to the top of the order on his return, possibly as soon as Australia’s next match against Netherlands in Delhi on Wednesday.
“Clearly, (he) comes in at the top,” chair of selectors George Bailey told reporters on Saturday, talking of Head’s return.
“He’s been fantastic there for us and that’s where he’ll slot in. And then we’ll just work out when it is, who we’re playing, the surface and what you might need.”
If he’s straight back in for the match against the Dutch, that would break up the little-and-large double act of Warner and Marsh, which flowered magnificently in the key win over Pakistan in Bengaluru on Friday with both men hitting tons in a 259-run partnership.
Head’s return will mean the in-form allrounder Marsh moving down the order but it’s possible the Warner-Marsh combination could fire at the top again if it’s decided to keep the returning left-hander under wraps until the trans-Tasman clash with New Zealand on October 28.
“It can be a six to eight-week injury. He’s ticked all the boxes in terms of the four-week scan and the bone has healed, so that’s all going well, and he’s progressed really well through the week,” said Bailey.
“But clearly the whole point of having him and carrying him to this point is not to then risk it by bringing him back early. So if it works out that it’s the Dutch game, great. If it’s a little bit further on, then that’s okay (too).”
Head is seen as a key contributor for the second-half of the World Cup group-stage challenge, as he’s averaging over 60 at a strike rate of over 119 ever since returning to the ODI squad last year and can offer a spin option too.
His return will certainly necessitate a reshuffle anyway, with Marnus Labuschagne perhaps the most likely batter to make way with allrounder Marcus Stoinis strengthening his claims with his 21 and two wickets against Pakistan.
“Stoin bought a really great energy with his bowling and couple of really key breakthroughs to get everyone up and going, and a nice catch as well,” noted Bailey.
Marsh would presumably step in at three, having scored 351 runs at a strike rate of 108.3 in seven innings since he took over as opener.