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‘Madness’: Marsh re-call divides Australia

He’s really back.
He’s really back.

MITCH Marsh has been re-called to the Australian Test squad.

That's the same Mitch Marsh who was so brutally exposed as Test cricket's worst ever No. 6 batsman in March.

The star allrounder was dropped from Test calculations during Australia's tour of India earlier this year in a humiliating episode for him and Australian selectors.

Now the nightmare is happening all over again - sparked by two wickets the 26-year-old has captured since returning to bowling in the Sheffield Shield. Two wickets. That's all it has taken for the brother of Shaun Marsh to replace Chadd Sayers in the Australian squad for the Third Test.

Marsh's inclusion was the only change to the Australian squad announced for the final Test to be held at the WACA with selectors reportedly still debating the possibility of Marsh being re-called at the expense of middle order batsman Peter Handscomb, despite the Victorian still averaging more than 47 runs at test level.

The No. 5 batsman has looked uncomfortable in a modest start to the Ashes, scoring 14 in Brisbane before his technique was exposed by England under lights in Adelaide with scores of 36 and 12.

It’s happening again.
It’s happening again.

Selectors might be about to throw him to the wolves on that evidence alone.

The selection panel reportedly wants an allrounder to play in Perth because of the lifeless wickets prepared in recent test matches in Western Australia - and the added workload it will put on Australia's pace trio of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

The fear of a fast-bowler being pushed into the injury red-zone by bowling a mountain of overs has seen selectors turn to Marsh yet again, despite Australian cricket only just getting over his dismissal at the start of the year.

The heavy workload also threatens to force selectors to rest one of the fast-bowling cartel for the Melbourne or Sydney Tests.

Marsh has also shown form with the bat in his return to the Sheffield Shield this summer. His last six innings in Shield cricket have produced scores of 95, 28, 141, 11. 43 and 38*.

Still, his re-call does not sit right with everyone.

Test great Michael Hussey said Peter Handscomb has been hard done by on the back of the tremendously difficult conditions Adelaide served up for batsmen.

"There's going to be a conversation there," he told Adelaide's FIVEaa of the Marsh-Handscomb debate.

"You've got Glenn Maxwell who's scoring a lot of runs for Victoria, you've got Mitch Marsh starting to get back in to bowling and scoring runs for Western Australia. You've got your own Travis Head who's scored a hundred. There's certainly pressure from below.

"Do selectors stick with a winning team and also Peter Handscomb was batting in very, very tough conditions as well. He does look a bit out of sorts, but you give him one more go."

Former Aussie test opener Simon Katich told ABC Grandstand the potential dropping of Handscomb would send a bad message to the rest of the team that they are only two bad performances away from the guillotine.

There’s no denying he’s made a decent comeback.
There’s no denying he’s made a decent comeback.

"In terms of the second innings, there were some worrying signs there with his balance and not being able to put the England bowlers back under pressure on the front foot," Katich said of Handscomb.

"I can understand why they are looking at Mitch Marsh. He's had a really good season for WA both in the one-dayers and now the Shield games with the bat and now he's back to the bowling crease to get some overs under his belt and it's his home ground."

Former Australian quick Dirk Nannes said Marsh is a wise selection addition with Australia facing another slow deck in Perth.

"Looking at the last few years that wicket has been flat," he told ABC Grandstand.

"You haven't been able to go there and blast teams out. At some stage this summer they are going to need that back up. Mitch Marsh, as much maligned as he is, he's a good bowler.

"He's someone who can give you those 12 overs, those 15 overs with the ball.

"During this series there is going to be a day when one of the bowlers are going to go down or they are going to have a bad day. When that happens you need back-up."

Just like that, Mitch Marsh was back in from the cold.

Topics:  ashes mitch marsh steve smith


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