Time to Marsh on
Wickets boost all- rounder’s case
MITCHELL Marsh has conceded selectors were right to dump him from the ICC World Cup in favour of Shane Watson, despite possibly ending the all- rounder selection debate in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s.
The change that many Australian cricket fans have been demanding for years happened last week, but it is unclear why selectors backed out of their initial shift toward Marsh four months ago.
Any chance of an Ashes backflip to mirror the change of heart that occurred midway through the World Cup dimmed as Marsh led Australia’s charge on day three toward a series- levelling triumph over England.
Marsh claimed the wickets of Alastair Cook ( 96) and Ben Stokes ( 87).
Marsh walked out of his press conference having taken a Test best 2- 23, cheekily predicting he could be back in front of the cameras again the next day because of batting exploits.
“Hopefully I’ll see you back in here tomorrow night,” he said.
In March Watson dashed Marsh’s World Cup dream, despite the selectors strongly suggesting days before that they had drawn a line in the sand and were prepared to usher in a new era with the younger all- rounder.
The selector on duty at the SCG – Mark Waugh – was effectively able to overrule the prior decision made by the national selector Rod Marsh.
Mitchell Marsh was reportedly stunned that two tour match hundreds in wins over Kent and Essex were not enough to get him into the first Ashes Test.
Reflecting on his World Cup axing, Marsh said he was not ready and doesn’t feel hard done by.
“It was obviously very tough at the time to be left out at that stage of a World Cup,” Marsh said.
“( But) at end of the day if I’m being honest it was probably the right decision to go with Shane with all his experience in one- day cricket.
“I got a medal around my neck and that’s all that mattered. I was a part of that 15 just as much as anyone else in that team, or that’s what it felt like.
“I thought the right decisions were made throughout the World Cup.”
Watson may yet get an Ashes medal around his neck, but it is unlikely he will be part of the playing XI when the series ends at The Oval in London next month.
Watson has been a firm mentor for Marsh over the years and the 23- year- old said he finds it hard to fathom the vitriol that his 34year- old teammate endures.
Marsh found the conjecture over their selection battle took its toll even on him.
“It was quite tough to be honest because, for me, I’ve just got so much respect for Shane and he’s someone who I really enjoy working with and watching him do what he does,” Marsh said.
“Although sometimes he cops a bad rap he’s been a very good player for Australia over a number of years and to do what he’s done over 60 Tests or however many he has played is a fantastic effort.
“And he’s always played a part in winning teams for Australia.
‘‘ To be honest it was really hard to see the amount that he cops back home.
‘‘ I just want to do well and hopefully I can keep contributing to this team.”
Marsh knows what it is like to fight hard for a place only to lose it, and he’s deter- mined not to let it happen again.
Australia were concerned he was struggling to find the confidence to bowl at full pace after tearing his hamstring during the last Test summer, but Marsh is confident his work with the ball is slowly catching up with his potential with the bat.
“I don’t think it matters who it is, when you come back from injury it takes a while,” he said.
“I’ve changed a few things and worked hard with ‘ Billy’ ( bowling coach Craig McDermott).
‘‘ It’s great to see those things come off now and hopefully it can continue.
“I’ve always seen myself as a batter and my bowling has been a bonus but we know at this level if you want to be playing as an all- rounder you need to be pretty equal.
“I’ve said it many times before: ‘ My bowling is something I’m working on and want to keep improving’.”
SO STOKED: Mitchell Marsh ( left) celebrates with wicketkeeper Peter Nevill ( right) after dismissing England’s Ben Stokes for 87 on day three of the Test. Picture: AFP