Left out of Australia’s provisional squad for the 2023 ODI World Cup, Marnus Labuschagne has been batting with a point to prove against South Africa, ransacking 204 runs in 2 matches at a strike rate of just 106.25, but the right-hander, in the aftermath of his match-winning ton in the second ODI, admitted that World Cup selection is ‘out of his control’ and all he’s instead focusing on is enjoying his cricket.
The Aussies announced their provisional squad for the World Cup last week but missing in the list was Labuschagne, whose underwhelming numbers - average 31.37 after 30 ODIs - stopped him from making the cut. He was left out of the South Africa ODIs too, but an injury to Steve Smith meant that he was drafted in.
Even then, the Queenslander did not make Australia’s starting XI in the first ODI but Cameron Green’s concussion presented the 29-year-old with an unlikely opportunity. He’s grabbed that opportunity with both hands, playing two match-winning innings to seriously knock on the World Cup door.
“World Cup spot is one of those things that's not in my control at all. My thing is just enjoying playing cricket,” Labuschagne, named Player of the Match for his efforts, said.
“Like I said to Shamsi, "if I go home, I get to see my daughter; if I go to the World Cup, I'll get to play a World Cup for Australia," so my job is to keep well.”
On the day, Labuschagne, walking in on the back of a fine platform set by the openers, posted his highest ODI score to date (124) and that propelled the Kangaroos to 392, a total that eventually proved to be more than enough. However, the 29-year-old claimed that despite getting a rapid ton, he did leave a few runs out in the middle.
“Still think I left a few runs out there, thought we could've opened up and gotten 430. But as the game does, it leaves you wanting more. Gotta be content.”
Labuschagne revealed that certain technical tweaks he made in the tour of England have helped him score considerably quicker. After striking at 83.20 across his first 30 ODIs, Labuschagne, this series, has been striking at 106.25.
“I have made a few slight technical changes after I started in England, I am a bit open in my stance now,” Labuschagne said.
"(I'm) looking to hit boundaries, looking to score, rather that lay off and try to manipulate from the start. It's nice that it's started so well but we've just got to keep winning games."
All teams have until 28 September to make any changes to the squad, after which any alterations will be subject to approval from ICC. With both Steve Smith and Cameron Green currently not fully fit, the possibility of Labuschagne sneaking into Australia’s World Cup squad cannot be ruled out.