Cricket legends pile pressure on Marsh
MITCHELL Marsh has responded to threats to his place in the Australian Test XI but former greats have savaged the under-fire West Australian.
Former Australian Test great Geoff Lawson hit out at the all-rounder, arguing Marsh hasn't been used in the role he's been selected for.
Lawson said on Sunday that Marsh should join Peter Siddle and Chris Tremain on the outer in the 14-man Test squad.
"He has had his opportunity" Lawson said. "He's averaging 26 over 30-odd Test matches, he's hardly bowling at all. He's not providing the all-rounder values. There is no way I'm playing Mitch Marsh."
When asked about Lawson's comments on Tuesday, Marsh had a lukewarm response.
"Hi Geoff, how are you," Marsh said.
"Look, his comments are his comments, that's his opinion. All I can focus on is preparing well for this Test match and preparing well for the summer, doing my best and that's all I can do.
"People can say what they are going to say. But I'm looking forward to seeing him."
The response seemed to ignite further criticism of Marsh.
In his 30 Test match career, he averages 26.09 with the bat and 42.46 with the ball.
During last year's Ashes Series in Australia, Marsh played three matches and plundered 320 runs with two centuries, including his Test high of 181.
But in Australia's two series since, the infamous four-Test Series in South Africa and the two-Test series in the UAE against Pakistan, Marsh averaged 22 and 7.50 respectively.
In those six matches, he has scored just 206 runs in 12 innings for an average of 17.2.
He bowling stats are just as bleak as Marsh didn't bowl last summer against England and has thrown down 72 overs in the six overseas Tests, returning six wickets at 44.5.
When returning to Sheffield Shield cricket, Marsh slammed 151 against Queensland in Brisbane but hasn't passed 50 in the next two matches with 81 runs in his next four innings.
He's also taken five wickets at an average of 54.2 across the three matches.
However, it appears as if Marsh will hold on to his spot in the Australia XI as the all-rounder for the first Test.
Lawson said the side would be better served to play a specialist batsman and backed Travis Head to play his first home Test in Adelaide.
"(Head) is a young guy who has played a few Test matches, he's on the way up. I'm happy to play Travis Head because he is a specialist batsman," Lawson said.
Speaking on Fox Sports News, commentator Kerry O'Keeffe added fuel to the calls for Marsh to be dropped but said the Australian vice-captain would likely be there to start the summer.
"I'm a strong believer you pick your best six batsman, a wickie and your best four bowlers and the argument is, is Mitch Marsh in the best six batsmen in that squad? He probably isn't although he deserves to start given he averaged 106 on Australian pitches at six against England in the middle-order," O'Keefe said.
"So he's got every right to start despite overseas failures and then they'll assess at the end of this Test where he's at. But I think he'll edge out Handscomb as with Travis Head and Harris will open with Finch."
Meanwhile, Ryan Harris called for Marsh to earn his all-rounder tag and be thrown the ball more.
In his 30 matches, Marsh averages just 14 overs per match.
"I like the all-rounder in the team, but I don't think Mitch Marsh has bowled enough," Harris told SEN Evenings.
"I'd like to see him bowling a lot more in the Test match because he's there as the all-rounder.
"He's a very good batsman, but he hasn't put the runs on the board with the bat so with being an all-rounder you've got two opportunities to contribute to the team and he probably hasn't done enough with that.
"I do think he should be there. I think he should be batting at six and then give him more than four or five overs per innings. It should be 10 to 15 overs an innings."
Former Australian opener Simon Katich also questioned whether Marsh would be required to bowl at all with the strength of Australia's frontline pace stocks with Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins ready to tear in.
"With them both (Travis Head and Handscomb) in the squad, there's a chance they could both play," Katich told SEN.
"(Marsh) did a bit of bowling, but this Australian team at the moment (has) a strong attack.
"If he's not going to bowl many overs, his place will come under question as well."
For Marsh, the summer is all about cementing his place in the side.
"After the UAE, there's no doubt that there were a few question marks about me," he said.
"But I'm really pumped if I'm selected to get out there in front of Australian crowds again. It's a great time of year and I'm feeling good.
"I'm doing my best to make the No. 6 position my own in this team and that's all I can do."
Following a serious ankle injury earlier this year, Marsh also keen to get his hands dirty with ball in hand.
"My goal this summer is to start really chipping in with the ball and get some more wickets for the team," he said.
"I love coming on in the graveyard shift after 70 or 80 overs when the ball's doing nothing and trying to sneak a wicket.
"I really want to take my bowling to the next level in this team."
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