Leg-spin legend Shane Warne has made the bold call to leave in-form batsman Usman Khawaja out of his hypothetical Australia squad for the upcoming World Cup.
Khawaja is the world's leading run-scorer in ODIs in 2019, with the left-hander having found his feet in green-and-gold at the top of the order in the absence of suspended regular opener David Warner.
In 13 matches, he has hammered 769 runs at an average of 59.15, in the process becoming the equal third-fastest Australian to 1,000 ODI runs (27 innings).
Warne has criticised Khawaja throughout the past two home summers, suggesting during the 2017-18 Ashes that he lacked "intensity" and arguing that, as Australia's most experienced batsman against India in the season just gone, he had "gone missing".
At the beginning of the summer, Warne took umbrage to Khawaja's comments regarding modern-day batting innovation, while in his newspaper column, the 49-year-old dropped him from his hypothetical Test team for the Ashes despite a hundred in his most recent Test innings, against Sri Lanka in February.
Six weeks later however, Warne had backtracked on that call, selecting Khawaja at No.3 for the first Ashes Test.
A short time after Warne's post early on Tuesday, the name 'Khawaja' was trending on Twitter, with cricket fans criticising his omission from Warne's hypothetical squad.
The Victorian could also find no room in his World Cup first XI for fellow incumbents Peter Handscomb and Shaun Marsh, with former leaders Steve Smith and Warner, as well as KFC Big Bash sensation D'Arcy Short, occupying three of the top four positions (skipper Aaron Finch was shifted from opener to No.3).
Short, who Warne has worked with at Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, played four ODIs under his former WA coach Justin Langer between June and November last year, but has since been overlooked.
For the second year running, the left-handed opener was the leading run-scorer in the Big Bash, hammering 637 runs for Hobart Hurricanes at an average of 53..08 and a strike-rate of 140.61.
Warne opted not to gamble on the fitness of star Test quick Josh Hazlewood, who is racing the clock to be in a position to complete an adequate preparation for the tournament after he sustained a back injury in January.
"When the squad gets announced I'll probably be 65-70 per cent (fit) and I've still got a good four or five weeks from that date to get ready to play one-day cricket," Hazlewood said on The Unplayable Podcast at the end of March.
"We head up to Brisbane early May, there's a couple of games against New Zealand I believe – I don't think I'll be fit for those but the one-day warm-up games in England I think I'll be right.
"Cutting it a little bit close I guess but pretty confident."
Australia's World Cup campaign begins on June 1 against Afghanistan at Bristol.
Shane Warne's Australia World Cup XV: (First XI) David Warner, D'Arcy Short, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Adam Zampa. (Extras) Shaun Marsh, Nathan Lyon, Ashton Turner, Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Australia's World Cup fixtures
May 25: (warm-up) England v Australia, Southampton
May 27: (warm-up) Australia v Sri Lanka, Southampton
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE