Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Langer backs Marsh amid Cup squeeze
Coach says Australia's best ODI batsman in 2018 will get a chance to push his World Cup case against Pakistan in the UAE
AAP & Cricket Network
15 March 2019, 11:32 AM AEST
One of the only shining lights of Australia's horror run of form in the one-day game last year, veteran batsman Shaun Marsh, remains firmly in the hunt for a World Cup spot despite being dropped earlier this week.
Marsh scored four ODI centuries in 2018 but was axed from Australia's XI for their historic series-clinching win over India in Delhi on Wednesday, leaving his one-day future clouded.
The breakout campaigns of Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb and Ashton Turner in India, and the impending returns of David Warner and Steve Smith from suspension, means even a proven recent performer like Marsh is far from certain of being named in Australia's Cup squad next month.
But he's expected to return to the side for Australia's five-match series against Pakistan, starting next week, to make one final case for a Cup berth.
"Definitely, he's too good a player not to," coach Justin Langer said when asked if Marsh would get a chance in the UAE.
"He's been our most successful ODI player in the last 12 months, probably longer.
"It was tough (in India) that he'd come back in off the back of a hamstring injury ... he missed out a few times but he's a gun player, a really important part of the team."
Langer says he's still losing sleep as he attempts to whittle Australia's Cup squad down to just 15 players.
Australia's 3-2 ODI series victory over India has made the job of Langer and his fellow selectors all the more difficult as they ponder the returns of Smith and Warner from suspension and a squad of players who, by and large, are in red-hot form.
Uncertainty also clouds the identity of the bowlers who will be entrusted with the nation's World Cup defence.
Mitchell Starc (pec) and Josh Hazlewood (back) are recovering from injuries, with the latter in some doubt for the start of the tournament, while selectors are mulling whether to include both Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon in the squad.
"I sat down in my bed last night and I tried to go through my journal, (write down) possible World Cup sides, Australia A sides and Ashes sides," Langer said prior to the squad's flight from Delhi to Dubai.
"I did that at about 11.30pm. I woke up at about 3.30am and my mind was still ticking. It's really hard.
"There will be 19 or 20 guys who deserve to be in the World Cup squad ... we've got a few selection headaches.
"That's a great problem to have. That's been the cornerstone of Australian cricket for a long time, intense competition."
Zampa, Khawaja, Marcus Stoinis, Pat Cummins and Alex Carey are among the players to have boosted their Cup chances in the Indian series.
Never underestimate the value of having the best keeper at your disposal - Carey’s stumping of @ImRo45 last night was class and he made it look easy. And you need to take every half chance at a WC. @cricketcomau— Chris Hartley (@_chrishartley) March 14, 2019
Khawaja and Peter Handscomb both posted maiden ODI centuries during productive tours of India, while Turner's unbeaten 84 in a record chase of 359 was proof of his potential.
Aaron Finch will be keen for another big score against Pakistan, having passed 50 once on the tour of India, but his captaincy is highly rated by both Langer and Hohns.
Langer praised the incumbent 15-man squad, which became the first Australian outfit to battle back from 2-0 down to win a five-match ODI series, for not thinking about World Cup selection.
"It's been one of our philosophies," he said.
"It's a real danger time ... if you put the emphasis on yourself, you tend to put too much pressure on and you don't go well. We don't go well."
Qantas Tour of the UAE
First ODI: v Pakistan, March 22 in Sharjah
Second ODI: v Pakistan, March 24 in Sharjah
Third ODI: v Pakistan, March 27 in Abu Dhabi
Fourth ODI: v Pakistan, March 29 in Dubai
Fifth ODI: v Pakistan, March 31 in Dubai