Mitchell Marsh is looming as a strong candidate to be called up to the Test squad for next month’s tour of the UAE to face Pakistan.
Mitchell Marsh is set to be named on Monday in Australia’s Test squad for the series against Pakistan in October.
Chairman of selectors Rod Marsh will announce Twenty20, one-day and Test squads for the tour of the UAE, with booming allrounder Marsh likely to feature in all three formats.
Injured captain Michael Clarke will be named, but Australia faces an anxious wait to see if he can overcome a troublesome left hamstring tear in time to make the tour.
Australia are down on bowling options for the two Test matches with James Pattinson and Ryan Harris in the casualty ward.
NSW left-armer Doug Bollinger is reportedly in contention for a surprise recall on the slower pitches of the UAE and coach Darren Lehmann says selectors are also considering a second spinner to join Nathan Lyon and make the most of the turning conditions.
But all eyes will be on Marsh if he’s named in the Test squad.
The West Australian has been on the radar for years, but has taken his game to another level in recent times, delivering emphatically with the bat in the one-day tri-series in Zimbabwe.
Marsh has shown his versatility by posting big scores at No.3 and No.6 in the order, and Lehmann admits he’s been looking for a powerful back-up to injury-prone incumbent Test allrounder Shane Watson and wants to give the 22-year-old more cricket.
Lehmann gave a cryptic response when asked about Marsh’s five-day claims.
“If the selectors sit down and think he warrants a spot then he’ll get a spot,” said Lehmann, who is himself a selector.
“At the end of the day he’s been very impressive here and that’s great for us. He’s a young guy who has got a very big future.
“We’ve got to make sure we get him as much game time as we can.
“It’s been a good learning curve for him, he played a couple of really good games so we’re pleased for that because if Shane Watson is injured we need and always like to have an allrounder in our side. That’s important.”
Watson missed the Zimbabwe tri-series with an ankle injury, as did David Warner who is waiting on the birth of his first child – but both will be on deck in the UAE.
Lehmann is keeping his fingers crossed on Clarke.
“We’ll just wait and see what happens there,” said Lehmann.
“That’s a big thing for us so we’ve got to make sure he’s right to play.”
NSW’s Stephen O’Keefe, who topped the wicket-taking list for the Sheffield Shield last season, and Queensland’s Cameron Boyce could be in contention to be included as the extra spin option for the Tests.
Possible Test squad: Michael Clarke (capt), Brad Haddin, David Warner, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Doolan, Phil Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Doug Bollinger, Nathan Lyon, Steve O’Keefe