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Abbott earns World Cup berth, Australia confident over fitness concerns

The key question looming for the selectors is who opens the batting between Warner, Head and Marsh

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
06-Sep-2023
Australia are confident that Pat Cummins, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell are on track to be fit for the ODI World Cup after they confirmed a provisional 15-player squad that did not include any surprises.
Sean Abbott earned a place among the pace bowlers in what was one of the few debatable positions, holding off a challenge from Nathan Ellis. Josh Inglis has been included as the back-up wicketkeeper and spare batting option. The squad can be amended until September 28 after which ICC approval is required.
From the original 18-player group selected for the South Africa and India tours earlier this month, Ellis, Aaron Hardie and Tanveer Sangha are the three to not make the final squad. Tim David, Marnus Labuschagne and Spencer Johnson are also currently with the ODI squad in South Africa.
Australia's preparations for the World Cup have become somewhat disjointed with a number of injuries around first-choice players. Cummins and Smith both picked up wrist injuries during the Ashes, which ruled them out of the ODI series in South Africa, while Starc has been sidelined by a groin problem.
Meanwhile, Maxwell, who was always going to miss the South Africa one-dayers due to the birth of his first child, returned home early after suffering discomfort in his ankle and is likely to be carefully managed in the lead-up to the World Cup.
"All are well placed to come back online in the coming weeks and potentially for selection in the upcoming series against India," national selector George Bailey said. "There are eight one-day matches still to play in South Africa and India before the final squad is due to be declared. They are followed by two World Cup practice games, which offers plenty of opportunity to continue the build for the tournament."
Legspinner Sangha has caught the eye in the past week after impressing in the T20I series against South Africa where he was called in for a last-minute debut when Adam Zampa was ill. However, the selectors have opted for two frontline spinners in the squad - Zampa and Ashton Agar - supplemented by Maxwell and Travis Head.
One of the key decisions the selectors will need to make over the coming weeks is who opens the batting. Mitchell Marsh's T20 form, and his performances against India in March, have made a strong case for him to be retained at the top of the order while Head has been prolific since his return to ODIs.
Warner missed the first two matches of the India series earlier this year and when he did return slotted in at No. 4 with Head and Marsh opening. It is likely that Smith will keep his slot at No. 3.
Australia open their World Cup campaign against India on October 8 in Chennai.
Australia ODI World Cup squad Pat Cummins, Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo