If Justin Langer had been asked to rank which of the five fast bowlers who'd been tonked all around the United Kingdom on last year's limited-overs tour would be most likely to make Australia's World Cup squad in 12 months' time, Kane Richardson would probably have been last on his list.

Langer sat down with the paceman after Australia's one-off T20 defeat to England in Birmingham, where Richardson had gone wicketless and conceded 59 runs from his four overs, and told him he thought he might not play international cricket again.

"I knew he thought that," said Richardson. "We went on a tour to Zimbabwe after that and didn't play a game. You learn pretty quickly that you are out of the pecking order."

Yet, on Wednesday, Richardson was in Taunton making his World Cup debut, taking a pair of key wickets as Australia held on for a 41-run win over Pakistan.

Learning that he'd be making his tournament debut was a "bittersweet" moment, admitted Richardson. 

He was with close friend Adam Zampa when the leg-spinner received a text from Langer and the penny dropped Richardson had taken his spot in the XI.

His World Cup place is by no means secure after finishing with 2-62 off 8.4 overs, but it was a solid first-up outing as Australia search for their best combination of bowlers for the business end of the tournament. 

He is the only survivor among the five pace bowlers selected for last year's one-day series and has earnt praise for taking a leap since that difficult campaign.

"I never thought he’d play cricket for Australia again," Langer said recently. "I didn’t think he had the bottle and we talked about it, but how he has come on and you see he is having a red-hot dip here.

"Everything he does, whether it’s at training, he’s talked about it to the group, he doesn’t want to play scared cricket, he wants to be an Australian cricketer.

"He is going 100 per cent now and I have great respect for him for that."

Richardson, who's since taken a more relaxed outlook on selection, admits reading Langer's public comments were a confidence boost.

"Anytime someone questions your bottle… Competitiveness has always been a strong trait of mine," said Richardson. "It was good to read and know that he thought that I'd made progress.

"At the time I was pretty disappointed in my performance then and knew something had to change.

"There was no point crying about it. I just thought if I do never end up playing again, so be it.

"Since then, it sounds silly, but I've stopped caring about selection. That's what happened throughout the summer - I took some wickets and a few blokes fell down and you're the next bloke in. 

"I just gave up all thought about it and just played cricket."

2019 World Cup

Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa

June 1: Australia beat Afghanistan by seven wickets

June 6: Australia beat West Indies by 15 runs

June 9: Australia lost to India by 36 runs

June 12: Australia beat Pakistan by 41 runs

June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval

June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge

June 25: England v Australia, Lord's

June 29: New Zealand v Australia, Lord's (D/N)

July 6: Australia v South Africa, Old Trafford (D/N)

July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford

July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston

July 14: Final, Lord's