Head and Warner

From Warner to Fraser-McGurk: Unlocking Australia's top-order options at the T20 World Cup

While the make-up of Australia's bowling line-up at the ICC Men's T20 World Cup looks clear, just who wins the race for the specialist batting positions and bats in the crucial first three positions remains up in the air.

By Jonathan Healy

While the make-up of Australia's bowling line-up at the ICC Men's T20 World Cup looks clear, just who wins the race for the specialist batting positions and bats in the crucial first three positions remains up in the air.

The one certainty is in-form dasher Travis Head will open the batting in the USA and Caribbean, but the Aussies have some options to ponder about who should be his partner and who is best suited to coming in at No.3.

Head has scored a century and two half-centuries already in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) season and only an injury could see him miss out on making his T20 World Cup debut and opening the batting for Australia in their opening match of June's tournament against Oman in Barbados.

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The 2021 T20 World Cup champions do have some other options to consider when assessing their best options in their top-order.

David Warner

Warner is the favourite to partner Head at the top of the order, despite the fact the veteran hasn't been in great touch at the IPL.

The left-hander has a high score of 52 and just one half-century from seven innings for the Delhi Capitals and his strike-rate of around 135 is not quite as good as he would want it to be.

The thing in Warner's favour is that he has plenty of experience playing on the pitches teams will encounter on the Caribbean and was among Australia's leading run-scorers when the T20 World Cup was last held in the West Indies in 2010.

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Mitch Marsh

It's expected Marsh will be named Australia's captain for the T20 World Cup when squads are announced next month for the 20-over showpiece and there's no doubt the hard-hitting right-hander will slot into the XI near the top of the batting order.

Marsh has scored three unbeaten half-centuries in his last eight T20I innings for Australia and his form at last year's ICC Men Cricket World Cup shows he is more than capable of performing on the big stage.

A hamstring injury saw Marsh depart India and return to Australia during the early stages of the IPL and only this could derail the 32-year-old playing a major part in the Aussies campaign in the USA and Caribbean.

And partnering Head at the top of the order is an option that selectors will surely consider, given the left-hand, right-hand combination would disrupt bowlers using the new ball.

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Jake Fraser-McGurk

Despite just two matches for his country to date, Fraser-McGurk looms as a left-field option that Australia will be tempted to utilise on the back of some outstanding recent form at the IPL under the watchful eye of former Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting at the Delhi Capitals.

Fraser-McGurk has scored two half-centuries from three innings for the Capitals and his strike-rate of 222.22 is better than anyone else at the tournament that has scored in excess of 100 runs.

Michael Vaughan has been one of the many commentators to have been impressed by Fraser-McGurk, with the former England skipper taking to social media to shower the 22-year-old in praise and make the bold call that Australia will select the right-hander in their squad for the T20 World Cup.

It would be a massive call by Australia to throw Fraser-McGurk in at the deep end and partner him with Head at the top of their batting order or use him at No.3 at the T20 World Cup, but it could be the exact type of decision they need to make to catapult them to more silverware.

Steve Smith

Somewhat the forgotten batter in Australia's impending T20 World Cup campaign, Smith's experience could prove pivotal in a month-long tournament that is sure to provide plenty of twists and turns.

Ponting recently suggested he expects Smith to be included in Australia's 15-player squad for the T20 World Cup and it is worth noting the 34-year-old was trialed as an opener during his two most recent T20I series in India and New Zealand.

While Smith managed mixed results in those contests with just one half-century from four innings, his wise head could be the perfect understudy to Head at the top of Australia's batting order if selected.

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