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Classy Australia look to find form

Although history has taught cricket fans never to write off Australia at a World Cup, sceptics of their chances of winning the trophy for a sixth time in India in November have more than a little ammunition to call on.

The decision to allow Travis Head to recuperate from his fractured hand in the first half of the tournament smacks of desperation for the runs the 29-year-old has been providing at the top of the order.

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"He's a really important player for us and hopefully when he does come on line and is available, he can have a really big impact for us towards the back end of the tournament," head selector George Bailey said after naming the final 15-man squad.

Head will not be the only player in the treatment room with big names such as Pat Cummins, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Starc all working their way back from injury with very little cricket under their belts.

Ashton Agar failed to recover from his calf injury to leave Adam Zampa as the only specialist spinner in the squad, even if Maxwell has decent figures in the 50-over game with his off breaks.

A deflating 3-2 loss on the warm-up tour of South Africa, albeit without some marquee players, was followed by two big defeats to India before Australia notched a win in the dead-rubber final match of the series.


The way tournament favourites India punished Australia's quick bowlers in all three matches in the same conditions they will face in the tournament must also be a cause of some concern.

There were positives from the warm-ups, however, not least the batting of Mitchell Marsh and his leadership in place of Cummins for the South Africa tour.

Written off in international cricket on countless occasions, the 31-year-old all-rounder has made a habit of resurfacing when his country needs him.

It was Marsh's 96 in sweltering conditions that fired Australia to victory over India in Rajkot and they will be confident he can do the job at the top of the order until Head returns, as well as contribute with the ball.

Marnus Labuschagne's revival in form with the bat after he was left out of the preliminary squad has enabled the selectors to bring him back into the fold for Agar with confidence.

Aside from those encouraging signs, Australia's core of world class players will always give them a chance of beating any side in the world on a given day.

Most of the squad are familiar with the conditions they will face from stints in the Indian Premier League and in Cameron Green, Marcus Stoinis, Sean Abbott, Marsh and Maxwell they have a clutch of all-rounders many other teams would envy.

Bailey said Australia had rarely been able to put out their first-choice team over the last 18 months but that had only served to improve depth in the squad.

The 2015 World Cup winner was certain that the likes of opener David Warner would be raring to go when their tournament starts against hosts India in Chennai on Oct. 8.

"These are the tournaments that the best players build themselves up for and get excited about," Bailey said.

"It's the ultimate challenge for them to not only prove how good they are individually, but also to help their team get some really exciting success."