Short, Johnson in line for debuts as Australia name squad without Travis Head for three ODIs in India before World Cup
Travis Head’s World Cup hopes are hanging by a thread after it was announced the opener will return to Australia rather than joining the ODI squad in India for a three-match bilateral series next week.
A host of first-choice players including captain Pat Cummins will be back in Australian gold after missing the ongoing campaign in South Africa.
Uncapped pair Matt Short and Spencer Johnson have been included in an extended 18-man group for the matches in Mohali, Indore and Rajkot.
Australia squad for ODIs against India
Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tanveer Sangha, Matt Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
But the absence of Head is significant after he fractured his left hand in the fourth ODI in Pretoria.
Surgery is understood to be one of the options considered for the opening batter. Even if he does not go under the knife, the 29-year-old appears to be in a race against time to feature at the World Cup, which begins in three weeks.
The only other member of the 15-man squad recently named for the World Cup (which is subject to change until September 28) who will not be in India for three-ODI series is Ashton Agar, who remains on family leave for the birth of his first child.
Along with Short and Johnson, Marnus Labuschagne, Tanveer Sanga, Nathan Ellis are the other non-World Cup squad members heading to India.
Aaron Hardie is not, despite being named in an initial 18-man group for the tournament, while Tim David and Michael Neser are also heading home after playing multiple matches in South Africa.
Head’s injury is the latest in a series of injury concerns hanging over the Australian team heading into the pinnacle 50-over event.
Glenn Maxwell, whose wife Vini gave birth earlier this week, has been named despite recent complications over his left leg, which he broke in a gruesome accident last year. Ankle pain ruled him out of the South Africa ODIs.
Cummins (wrist), Mitchell Starc (groin and shoulder) and Steve Smith (wrist) are all at various stages in their recovery from injuries suffered during a gruelling six-Test campaign in the UK earlier this year.
Mitch Marsh, who is opening in the ongoing fifth ODI in Johannesberg, could partner David Warner against the new ball for the World Cup if Head is not available.
Labuschagne is in the box seat to take the vacant squad spot after big innings in the first two matches in South Africa and would compete with the likes of Green and Josh Inglis for a middle-order berth if he won a spot in the 15-man group.
2023 Qantas Tour of India
September 22: First ODI, Mohali (D/N), 6pm AEST
September 24: Second ODI, Indore (D/N), 6pm AEST
September 27: Third ODI, Rajkot (D/N), 6pm AEST
Australia ODI squad: Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tanveer Sangha, Matt Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa