Marnus Labushagne is banging at the door for World Cup selection next month after blasting a century against South Africa, alongside David Warner, in the first One Day International. Labushagne copped a brutal blow ahead of the South Africa white-ball tour having missed out on selection, only to be included because of Steve Smith's absence.
He also wasn't included in the first match, but was used as a concussion sub before he saved the visitors after teaming up with Ashton Agar (48 runs) with an unbeaten 80 to guide the Aussies to a three-wicket win.
'GET READY': Cricket fans react to huge news about Mitchell Starc
And the middle-order batter has teamed up with opener Warner to blast Australia to victory with the pair scoring centuries to leave the Aussie selectors with a huge decision. Warner became the second Australian after Ricky Ponting to notch 20 ODI tons as he and in-form Labuschagne, with a career-best 124, added 151 for the second wicket to underpin Australia's 8-392, their third-highest ODI total.
And while Warner was always heading to India for the World Cup, Labuschagne's irrepressible form has now sparked the question of whether he should join his fellow Aussies on the plane.
Labuschagne replaced Cameron Green in the first game and has now won two man-of-the-match awards batting in the middle order. His batting on the slow and tricky pitch in South Africa bodes well for what would be thrown at the Australian's in India.
And Warner couldn't help but praise his test teammate after yet another match-winning knock. "Marnus played extremely well," Warner said. "He's in a good spot - the game's about taking opportunities. He's batting very, very well."
Cricket fans were also left pondering whether it was time for the selectors to realise Labuschagne's form was too good to refuse.
Match winning century & player of the match award. Has #MarnusLabuschagne done enough to make the Aussie selectors think again? They didn’t keep him in the initial World Cup squad but what happens now? Selectors can include him & announce the final 15 by 28th. #AUSvsSA #CWC23
— Sumit Ghosh (@SumitG71) September 9, 2023
Hats off to Marnus Labuschagne! He secures his second century against South Africa.
He has posed a dilemma for Australian selectors, scoring on flat and tricky pitches, against pace and spin, mirroring the team's style. #AUSvSA pic.twitter.com/NRetbWNHMn
— Vipin Tiwari (@vipintiwari952) September 9, 2023
The vintage David Warner celebration.
All of us missed this celebration the most in recent times! pic.twitter.com/ldSdxVOniV
— Mufaddal Vohra (@mufaddal_vohra) September 9, 2023
— Sports Geeez (@Sportsgeeez) September 9, 2023
Labuschagne getting kicked out of the world cup squad and then producing two big innings in two matches is exactly the kind of problem you want in a team...
Make the selectors' head heat up.
— Disco Inferno (@Gandulf_da_Grey) September 9, 2023
Warner back in the runs was a huge positive!
Marnus is forcing the selectors hands. He will be on the plane to India for sure.
Zampa is showing why he is our #1 white ball spinner. 👊🏻 https://t.co/eAOYbFC6e9
— Lachy (@Lachy_Steele) September 9, 2023
David Warner century sparks opener dilemma
Warner's century also gives selectors another question to ponder. Mitchell Marsh and Travis Head have been in brilliant form together since taking over the top of the order in Warner's absence. The veteran missed most of the India white-ball series, but returned for the last game. Batting at No.4, Warner was dismissed cheaply.
His first game back for Australia against South Africa, Warner chopped the ball on for just two runs. However, the opener bounced back and shared a strong partnership with the undroppable Head in the process.
Warner and Head now average a Bradman-esque 100.55 as an opening pair after bludgeoning South Africa's bowlers for a 109-run union to set up Australia's comprehensive 123-run win. Selectors will have the huge decision on what role Warner plays at the World Cup with Marsh continually putting his hand up to open next to Head.
Meanwhile, legspinner Adam Zampa continued his world class form with a (4-48) and recalled seamer Nathan Ellis (2-32) led the tourists' charge with the ball, well supported by Sean Abbott (2-50) and debutant Aaron Hardie (2-62). Australia can sew up the five-match series with a win at Potchefstroom on Tuesday.
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.