Mitch Marsh has given the strongest endorsement imaginable for David Warner to bat at the top of the order for Australia at the ODI World Cup in India, later this year. Australian selectors on Wednesday trimmed their extended 18-man squad down to 15 players, with Marsh one of three all-rounders picked with no shortage of versatility.
Debate has been raging about whether Warner should bat down the order, due to the impressive form of Marsh and Travis Head as an opening partnership. The pair opened the batting against India in March after Warner fractured his elbow in the Test series. Marsh scored 81 in the first ODI before combining with Head for an unbeaten stand of 121 as Australia won the second game by 10 wickets. Marsh scored 66 not out from 36 balls, while Head made 51 from 30.
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When Warner returned for the third games of the series he batted at No.4 and scored 23. Marsh ultimately finished the 2-1 series victory as Australia's leading run-scorer, averaging 97 in that series at a strike-rate of 131.08 to be named player of the series, sparking debate around the cricket world that he should keep his place at the top of the order.
Speaking ahead of Australia's five-match ODI series against South Africa - starting Thursday - Marsh said he fully expects Warner to return to the role he's excelled at for such a long time. Warner's 6030 runs makes him the 10th greatest run-scorer in Australia's ODI history and Marsh considers the veteran batter a lock to open for Australia at the World Cup.
"I expect to bat middle order," Marsh told AAP, before hailing Warner as the greatest three-format cricketer Australia has ever produced. "Things may change, but Davey is literally one of the GOATs of one-day cricket and white-ball cricket in general.
"We have Travis Head and Australia's best-ever all-three-format player there, so I dare say I probably won't be opening the batting." While Warner's role as Australian Test opener has been called into question for some time, the left-hander has averaged close to 50 in ODIs for Australia since returning from his ball-tampering ban in 2019.
Mitch Marsh has been in stunning form with the bat
The case for Marsh batting at the top of the order has been further strengthened by his stunning form captaining the Aussies in the T20 series against South Africa. Marsh whacked back-to-back half centuries in the opening two games and was named player-of-the-series in a stunning start to his stint as Aussie T20 skipper. Marsh finished the three-match series with scores of 92no, 79no and 15 in his first series as captain.
That came off the back of an incredible return to Test cricket for Marsh, who marked his first match back with a brilliant century against England in the Ashes. "My approach now from Test cricket to T20 cricket won't be too dissimilar," Marsh said.
"Often it's the situation of the game in Test cricket. There were times in Manchester where I couldn't go out there and try and hit blokes for six and put pressure back on them. I just had to soap up deliveries. That is the intricacies of Test cricket. But generally my approach won't change too much now."
On-field preparations for the World Cup will ramp up on Thursday in South Africa, with the first of five ODIs scheduled for Bloemfontein. Australia then have three games against India on the subcontinent, as well as warm-up matches against Netherlands and Pakistan, before their World Cup campaign kicks off with a first-up clash against the tournament hosts on October 8.
The squad can be changed up until September 28, after the ODI series against South Africa and India.
AUSTRALIA WORLD CUP SQUAD:
Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith , Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa.
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