Maxwell has not played at the top levels since taking time out of the game citing mental health concerns during the Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka. He will return to the domestic ranks for Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League.
Selectors have been strongly considering Labuschagne as a potential one-day international player as they begin long-range plans for the 2023 World Cup to be staged in India.
If Labuschagne is named in the touring party it would cap a massive few months for Australian cricket’s newest star. The batting sensation has the backing of senior players who believe he has the tools to be successful in the limited-overs formats.
It was Labuschagne’s deeds against the white ball which first caught the eye of selectors last year as they sought to use the suspensions of Steve Smith and David Warner as the opportunity to uncover the next generation of batting stars.
Labuschagne was one of the best-performed batsmen in Queensland’s successful Marsh Cup campaign this season, averaging above 60 with a strike rate of better than a run a ball. His past three domestic campaigns have yielded 926 runs at 51.44.
“That’s the energy and excitement he brings to the game – he’s a fast scorer and I think his white-ball game is going to come into it as well. I think he’s definitely a three-format player,” veteran opener David Warner said on cricket.com.au last month.
The start of the new World Cup cycle is the perfect opportunity for selectors to regenerate their one-day side. At 25, Labuschagne should only get better with batsmen typically peaking in their late 20s and early 30s. His part-time leg-spin also adds flexibility to Australia’s attack.
Labuschagne’s batting coach Neil D’Costa told the Herald last week he believes his protege’s game is well suited to the spin-friendly conditions of the subcontinent.
He and Steve Smith can form the bedrock of Australia’s top order for their next tilt at 50-over cricket’s major prize.
Labuschagne’s emergence could have ramifications for veterans Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja, whose opportunities in the canary yellow are likely to diminish in the coming years despite their excellent form on the subcontinent at the start of the year.
Darren Lehmann, the coach of Australia’s last World Cup success, has described him as an “all-format package”.
“There’s no reason he can’t play one-day cricket and T20 cricket for Australia,” Lehmann, who is coaching Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash League, said.
“So for (the Heat) it’s a question of how much we see him – it depends if (the national selectors) start looking at playing him in the one-dayers, because his one-day record for Queensland this year is exceptional.”
Daniel is an Age sports reporter