Marnus Labuschagne's lack of consistency puts paid to ODI World Cup hopes

One silver lining is that he will be available for plenty of Sheffield Shield cricket before the Test summer

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Marnus Labuschagne's hopes of featuring in the ODI World Cup appear to be over after his omission from the squads to play in South Africa and India next month, but he will have a chance to push the selectors by lining up for Australia A against New Zealand A.
Labuschagne was the notable omission from Australia's 18-player ODI squad for next month's matches, which forms the preliminary group for the World Cup in October.
"It is form based," chair of selectors George Bailey said about Labuschagne's omission. "We know Marnus at his best is good enough to hold down a spot in the one-day team, [but] we just haven't seen enough of it consistently in the role that we'd like him to do. Leading into the World Cup, there's some opportunities for others to get a bit more game time.
"We've been really clear with Marnus. He's going to be part of some Australia A games around the same time, so he can focus on some white-ball cricket. Clearly, the squad we have going to South Africa have the frontrunning for [the World Cup] but Marnus, the age he is, the skillset he has, I have no doubt he'll play a part in one-day cricket in the future. We know at his best he can play a really important role in one-day cricket."
Australia will narrow their list down to 15 names early next month but will be able to make changes up to September 28, the day after the last of the ODIs against India, where they will play three of the eight games in the lead-up to the World Cup.
Labuschagne has paid the price for not kicking on from a promising start to his ODI career over the last 18 months. Since March 2022, he averages 24.93 at a strike-rate of 74.94 from 17 matches, having averaged 39.41 with a strike-rate of 91.13 in his first 13 games, which included a maiden century against South Africa in March 2020.
Australia A play New Zealand A in three one-dayers from September 10 to 15 in Mackay and Brisbane, the squad for which is due to be named this week. Shortly after that, the domestic Marsh Cup begins, which will give Labuschagne further opportunity to play one-day cricket for Queensland.
If, as expected, he now misses out on the World Cup, it means he will be able to feature in a full run of Sheffield Shield matches during October and November ahead of the home Test season beginning against Pakistan, in Perth, on December 14.
Labuschagne had an underwhelming Ashes series in England, where he made 328 runs at 32.79, although he did have an excellent match at Old Trafford, where he struck a second-innings century.
Australia's Test players who feature in the World Cup will have very limited opportunity for any first-class cricket ahead of the Test summer, although it is unlikely any of them will be part of the five-match T20I series against India will follows the tournament.
One player who could be particularly challenged by the schedule is Cameron Green, who was dropped for the final Ashes Test at The Oval. He has been rested from the T20I series in South Africa, but if he makes the cut for the final World Cup squad, there will be little opportunity for him to find red-ball form and rhythm to push his claims for a recall.
The last round of Shield matches before the Test series against Pakistan - and the BBL window - begins on November 28. The World Cup final takes place on November 19, and the round-robin matches finish on November 12.
"A really important thing to remember with Cam [is] he's doing his learning at the coalface in international cricket," Bailey said. "Even as far as Test cricket [is concerned], he's going to play a huge role and be a really, really important member of that side; and he's going to be a really important member of our white-ball teams in the near future. He's certainly one where it's about giving him a little bit more time off to make sure he hits the ground running for the one-day series."
David Warner, who is aiming to close out his Test career at the SCG in early January, would also have a maximum of one Shield match for New South Wales, meaning the selectors will likely need to make a call on his place based on the Ashes, where he averaged 28.50. Thus, the first part of the Shield season will be vital for those vying to fill Warner's place at the top of the order.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo