Pakistan v Australia Test - Men's
I'll be fully fit for Pakistan: Marsh
Allrounder adamant he won't be underdone for Australia's upcoming Test series against Pakistan in the UAE
12 July 2018, 06:36 PM AEST
Allrounder Mitchell Marsh is yet to resume bowling again following off-season ankle surgery, but he's bullish about his chances of being at full fitness in time for Australia's Test campaign against Pakistan later this year.
Marsh looms as a crucial player for the Aussies in the proposed two-Test series in the UAE; not only because he's one of the more experienced batters in what will be a depleted top order, but his ability to bat in the top six and offer a pace-bowling option will give selectors greater scope to include two or even three spinners in the side for a series that's certain to be played on slow, turning pitches.
The 26-year-old says the damage done to his left ankle, which required an operation in April and forced him out of a stint with English county side Surrey, was greater than initially thought. And while the surgery was a success and his rehab is on track, he concedes his recovery has "been a little bit slower than I'd certainly hoped for".
But despite still being three weeks away from bowling in the nets again, the 26-year-old denies he'll be underdone for the Pakistan series and acknowledges he'll have a major role to play if Australia are to win their first Test series in Asia since 2011.
"From my perspective and where I see the plan, I'll be fully fit for that tour," he told cricket.com.au.
"I've still got 12 weeks, I'll start bowling in three weeks so I'll be fully fit for that tour.
"My ankle is honestly feeling great and I've had no setbacks so far.
"I think the allrounder role is going to be really important if we're going to go with two spin options in those conditions."
In typically relaxed style, Marsh says "there was a fair bit going on in there" when specialists closely examined his left ankle after it had caused him significant pain during the latter stages of Australia's Test tour of South Africa.
What was going on, specifically, were bone spurs at both the front and back of his ankle, with surgeons needing to remove seven pieces of bone to alleviate the discomfort.
It's the second straight year that Marsh's off-season has consisted of surgery followed by an extensive period of rehabilitation; he required a shoulder operation in March last year that kept him on the sidelines for almost seven months and led - in his own words - to him bowling "powder puffs" early in his return to the bowling crease.
"It certainly took a fair while for me to find a bit of rhythm," he reflected earlier this year.
"I was quite impatient with my bowling when I came back. I thought I'd done a lot of hard work and it was going to be all good when I came back, but I was bowling powder puffs for a few months and that was quite frustrating."
And it's his long and chequered battle with his own body that has Marsh confident about his chances of recovering in time for the Pakistan series.
"I've been through it a few times now so it's nothing I don't know," he said.
"I'm not concerned. Where my body's at now, it's a lot more mature when it comes to being able to get up to speed a bit faster.
"I know that generally speaking, when I get up to my long run, I need about 4-6 weeks to start to feel my rhythm. That will give me plenty of time to do that."
Before the Pakistan series, Marsh will make a tentative return to bowling as captain of Australia A in two four-day matches in India in early September, a tour that will be a critical selection trial for a Test side looking to replace their trio of batsmen banned following the South African ball tampering scandal.
The allrounder acknowledges the series looms as selection shootout between several Test hopefuls, but that the heightened expectation should be embraced.
"When there's external pressure and hype around games where selection is on the line, I'll be using that as a dress rehearsal for the pressures of Test cricket from a mental perspective," he said.
"You've got to stick to your game plan ... and selection will take care of itself."
Australia A Tour of India
Australia A four-day squad: Mitchell Marsh (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Michael Neser, Joel Paris, Kurtis Patterson, Matthew Renshaw, Mitch Swepson, Chris Tremain
Australia A one-day squad: Travis Head (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Jhye Richardson, D’Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Mitch Swepson, Chris Tremain, Jack Wildermuth
One-day fixtures in Vijayawada
17 August v India A
19 August v South Africa A
23 August v India A
25 August v South Africa A
29 August – Tri-Series Final
Four-day fixtures in Vizag
2 – 5 September v India A
8 – 11 September v India A