Australia have named their XI for the first of five matches in South Africa with Marsh to captain in an ODI for the first time while Pat Cummins is still unavailable due to his wrist injury. Marsh made a triumphant debut as Australia’s interim T20I captain with a 3-0 series sweep of South Africa
One of the debates surrounding Australia’s ODI side heading towards the World Cup was whether or not Warner and Head would remain together at the top of the order after Marsh’s phenomenal series against India
earlier this year when he opened in all three games. Marsh only opened because Warner was recovering from a fractured elbow and missed the first two matches. When Warner returned for game three he was forced to bat at No.4 for the first time in his ODI career, and not open for just the second time, as Australia stuck with the combination of Head and Marsh who had dominated the series to that point.
But Australia have returned to their trusted pairing of Head and Warner. The pair have only opened together in seven ODIs, three coming after the retirement of long-time captain Aaron Finch late last year, but have compiled three partnerships of 284, 147, and 269 across those seven games. They also have another century fifth-wicket stand and average 85.07 as a pair
in the format overall.
Marsh will instead bat at No.3 where has been dominant in T20Is over the last couple of years but he may slide further when Smith returns for the India series and the World Cup that follows the tour of South Africa, although Australia is hoping to be fluid with their top order depending on their needs with Marsh’s power in the 10-over powerplay keen to be utilised at times if the surfaces require it.
“There’ll be potentially a few moving parts with our squad throughout these five games, I’m guessing it’ll be the same as South Africa,” Marsh said on Wednesday. “It’s a heavy schedule, building to the World Cup. So we’ll have certain guys batting in different areas, but I’ll start at three.”
Green has been named to bat at No.4 for the first time in his ODI career in a sign ahead of the World Cup that he could move higher up the order having batted at Nos.6-8 in 11 of his 12 ODI innings to date. Number four is by far his best position in List A cricket having made two centuries in seven innings there including one for Australia A against Sri Lanka A in Colombo last year
Australia will play seven bats and four bowlers, including two spinners in Bloemfontein. It is one of three combinations they are likely to use in the World Cup and likely to be the one they need on spinning pitches like Chennai where they will play their opening match against India on October 8. It is the structure they used with success against India in Chennai back in March
to close out their last ODI series. Agar is returning from a calf injury
but will leave the touring squad at the back end of the South Africa series to return home for the birth of his first child, hence the selectors’ keenness to play the two spinners in combination in game one in Bloemfontein in preparation for the World Cup.
and Josh Hazlewood will play as the lone specialist quicks in the absence of Cummins and Mitchell Starc (groin). Abbott edged out Nathan Ellis for the final spot in the provisional 15-man World Cup squad
on the back of some outstanding recent form.
Australia’s other team combinations likely include playing seven batters, three quicks and one spinner, or playing eight batters and just three specialist bowlers, with four allrounders batting in the top eight provided Marsh, Green, Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis are all fit to bowl to make up at least 20 overs of bowling.
Australia XI for first ODI vs South Africa: David Warner, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh (capt), Cameron Green, Josh Inglis, Alex Carey (wk), Marcus Stoinis, Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood