Respected veteran cricket writer Gideon Haigh has thrown his support behind the controversial inclusion of Western Asutralian all-rounder Mitch Marsh to the Australian Test squad.
The inclusion of Marsh at the expense of South Australia’s Chadd Sayers was the only change the Australian selectors made to the 13-man squad for the Third Ashes Test in Perth starting next week.
Haigh said that Marsh – who has been on the comeback trail following shoulder surgery – has long been a favorite of the selection panel and it is no real surprise that he has been brought back into the squad.
“They’ve always had big wraps on Mitchell Marsh and I must admit, I’ve always quite liked him,” he said on SEN’s The Run Home.
“If it all came together for Mitchell Marsh he would be a wonderful cricketer.”
“At the moment, he hasn’t had a bad Sheffield Shield Summer. He’s shouldered increasing bowling loads in the last two games. He’s been delicately guided back with this kind of role in mind.
“Australia’s been worried about having a four-man attack to get through five tough Test matches ending in the new year. You saw the effect in Adelaide of that consciousness in Steve Smith’s mind as a captain in that he didn’t enforce the follow on as he didn’t have anyone to share the workload.”
While injuries have played a part, Haigh said that Marsh’s passion for the game – and his country – have also been a factor in his struggles.
“He cares a lot and he’s a hard worker. Sometimes people say the opposite of Shaun Marsh – that he’s a bit lazy and relies on natural talent,” he said.
“Mitchell does genuinely care and at times I think he’s cared a bit too much and psychologically he’s put himself under quite a lot of pressure and he hasn’t quite proven up to it.”
Haigh said that Victorian batsman Glenn Maxwell is extremely unlucky to have been overlooked, but the venue of the next Test may have played a role in elevating Marsh ahead of the mercurial right-hander.
“The selectors have put their feelers out and said that runs and wickets are the currency these days,” Haigh said.
“Of course, Glenn Maxwell has produced a lot of runs – runs in ceaseless abundance. I would have argued for Maxwell ahead of Shaun Marsh at the start of the season as the incumbent.
“The fact that we are going into Perth and Mitchell and Shaun will be playing on their home ground perhaps has some relevance to the selection. If we’d have been coming into Melbourne then Glenn would have been a chance.”
Haigh said that having a strong relationship with captain Steve Smith was important last summer, but that seems to have eased off this year.
“Steve Smith was closely associated with the rebuilding of the Australian team last year. He gave that passionate address after the Bellerive Oval Test saying that he wanted players that were desperate to play for their country,” he said.
“Failure created a mandate for the selectors to make major changes and interestingly, (Peter) Handscomb is the last of the five players that came in in the subsequent Test last year.
“It’s almost as though an experiment is passing before our eyes and normal service has been renewed.”
What else did Gideon Haigh have to say about the cricket? Listen to the full chat below!