Test door ajar for Shield-bound Marsh
Axed allrounder back to Sheffield Shield ranks with WA but Justin Langer says he remains in contention for a Test return
6 December 2018, 12:51 PM AEST
Dumped Test vice-captain Mitch Marsh will have an immediate opportunity to push his case for a national recall, as Australia coach Justin Langer suggested the allrounder may still have a role to play in the four-Test campaign against India.
Marsh will have little time to stew over his axing for the Domain Test series-opener in Adelaide as he resumes his post as captain of Western Australia in the JLT Sheffield Shield on Friday, with the Warriors taking on ladder-leaders Victoria at the MCG.
Fellow Test squad member Chris Tremain has also been released and was named in Victoria's Shield squad, but Australia's other auxiliary quick Peter Siddle will remain in Adelaide.
After playing integral roles with the bat in the Perth, Sydney and Durban Tests last summer, Marsh hasn't passed 50 in any of his past 12 Test innings, while he averages just six wickets at 66 since his return during the Ashes.
Australia went into the first Test with just four specialist bowlers, with pitches in Adelaide and the new Perth Stadium expected to offer more assistance to the seamers, a scenario borne out on the first morning as the hosts claimed four wickets before lunch.
But the final two Tests will be played at the MCG and the SCG, where conditions have been more favourable to batters in recent years, which may necessitate the inclusion of a fifth bowler and pave the way for Marsh's return.
"(Marsh) hasn't scored as many runs as he would have liked and probably hasn't taken the wickets over the past five or six Test matches," Langer told Fox Cricket before play on Thursday.
"There's a high expectation as an Australian cricket player, Mitch knows he's got to be a bit more consistent.
"He's working really hard on his game – hopefully he'll have a good Shield game this week against Victoria and I'm sure with his all-round package, he might be used during this series."
The Vics will be without their skipper Peter Handscomb, Marsh's replacement in the Test team, with opener Travis Dean to take the leadership reins at first-class level for the first time.
Will Pucovski has returned to the squad after taking a break due to a mental health-related illness, as has Cameron White, while former Test batter Nic Maddinson, who struck 150 against Tasmania in the Toyota Futures League last week, is in line to make his Shield debut for Victoria after crossing from NSW over the winter.
Speaking about Pucovski's return, Cricket Victoria doctor Trefor James said: "Will has progressed well in recent weeks, both in his training with the squad and through club cricket.
"The medical and coaching staff, together with Will, believe now is the right time to return."
Batters D'Arcy Short, Josh Phillippe and Jonathon Wells have all returned to the Warriors' squad, with Shaun Marsh departing for national duties and young quick Cameron Green rested.
In the final round of Shield matches before the KFC Big Bash break, New South Wales will also host South Australia at the SCG while Queensland head to Hobart to take on Tasmania in a rematch of last year's final.
The Blues will be without their best bowler this summer in Trent Copeland, who is working as a bowling analyst for Channel Seven during the Test series with India.
The former Test quick sits fifth among the competition's leading wicket takers with 23 wickets at 17.
"He approached us during the pre-season and we believe this is a wonderful opportunity for Trent," NSW Cricket chief executive Andrew Jones said.
"We look after our players on and off the field and are happy to support him in this exciting endeavour."
Copeland's departure means uncapped left-armer Greg West could make his debut, while the Redbacks have named Kelvin Smith as a replacement for skipper Travis Head, another Test call-up. Jake Lehmann will captain SA in his stead.
Tasmania could field two debutants if Charlie Wakim and Sean Willis win selection in their final XI to take on the Bulls.
Test skipper Tim Paine is the only out for the Tigers, while Peter George has returned for the visitors, with the Bulls to be captained by wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson.
Sheffield Shield, round six (all matches to begin Friday December 7 at 10.30AM AEDT)
Victoria squad: Travis Dean (c), Scott Boland, Andrew Fekete, Seb Gotch, Jon Holland, Nic Maddinson, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Matt Short, Chris Tremain, Cameron White.
Western Australia squad: Mitch Marsh (c), Ashton Turner (vc), Ashton Agar, William Bosisto, Hilton Cartwright, Liam Guthrie, Josh Inglis, Matthew Kelly, David Moody, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Jonathon Wells.
Tasmania squad: Matthew Wade (C), George Bailey, Gabe Bell, Jackson Bird, Alex Doolan, Jake Doran, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Simon Milenko, Alex Pyecroft, Jordan Silk, Charlie Wakim, Sean Willis.
Queensland squad: James Peirson (c), Joe Burns, Luke Feldman, Peter George, Sam Heazlett, Charlie Hemphrey, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Mark Steketee, Mitch Swepson, Jack Wildermuth.
NSW squad: Peter Nevill (c/wk), Sean Abbott, Harry Conway, Jack Edwards, Daniel Fallins, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Nick Larkin, Stephen O'Keefe, Kurtis Patterson, Jason Sangha, Greg West.
SA squad: Jake Lehmann (c), Alex Carey, Tom Cooper, Callum Ferguson, Conor McInerney, Joe Mennie, Kane Richardson, Kelvin Smith, Jake Weatherald, Nick Winter, Daniel Worrall, Adam Zampa.
Domain Test Series v India
Dec 6-10: First Test, Adelaide Oval
Dec 14-18: Second Test, Perth Stadium
Dec 26-30: Third Test, MCG
Jan 3-7: Fourth Test, SCG
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c, wk), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Mitch Marsh (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Chris Tremain
India squad: Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant (wk), Parthiv Patel (wk), Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar