Marnus Labuschagne has rubbished suggestions that he and Steve Smith are playing for a single spot in the Australian ODI middle order.
Australia are in Townsville for a three-match series against Zimbabwe starting on Sunday, with three matches to follow that directly in Cairns.
With just 23 matches to be played in the 50-over format between now and the ODI World Cup, to be held in India next year, the fight for spots in the team is well and truly on.
Both Smith and Labuschagne have been included in the side to play Zimbabwe and New Zealand, and are likely to be in Australia's squad for the World Cup next year fitness pending, but whether they are both in the XI is another question altogether.
There is a train of thought which suggests having two touch type players in the side may actually impact Australia more than it helps, particularly with Usman Khawaja also pushing for a spot, although the Queenslander he has been left out of the Zimbabwe series.
Mitchell Marsh, Cameron Green, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis as well as Travis Head who hasn't been picked to play Zimbabwe and New Zealand due to the birth of his first child are the other players in contention for the middle order spots, with Alex Carey to bat at seven as the wicket-keeper.
Labuschagne rubbished claims that he and Smith can't be in the same team though speaking to News Corp.
“No, I certainly don’t think we’re playing for one spot. Obviously Steve has had a few injuries in the past few months so we haven’t had the opportunity to actually bat together in that middle order too much,” Labuschagne told News Corp.
“It’s certainly one where I think if you look at us batting in the middle, we’ve got chemistry.
“We play really well off each other and we’re able to play that high intensity game.
“It probably doesn’t look the same as if you’ve got a big hitter in who might be going at 10 through the middle … but with Steve and I having a bit more of that touch type game I think it’s really effective through the middle and hopefully we can have more opportunities in trying to grow that middle-order position together.”
Australia are virtually at full strength minus Test captain Pat Cummins for the series against Zimbabwe, with the first ODI to be played on Sunday morning from 9:40am (AEST).