The talk is all about Virat Kohli right now but the Australian bowlers’ preparation for other Indian batsmen is as detailed and anyone who thinks otherwise is plain “silly”, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh said Tuesday.
Gearing up for the four-match Test series that starts at Adelaide on Thursday, Marsh said his team’s bowlers have strategies in place and would be aiming for perfect execution when the action begins.
“We all know Virat’s a great player. We’ll have our plans for him and hopefully we can execute them. But if people think we’re not prepared for the other batsmen in the Indian team, who are all very good players, then they’d be pretty silly,” said Marsh.
The all-rounder said he was also fully fit to bowl and hopes to be a vital fifth cog in the Australian attack, comprising of three pacers and Nathan Lyon. “I have got some good overs under my belt the last couple of weeks for Western Australia. My goal for this summer is to start chipping in with the ball and get a few more wickets for the team.
“I love coming on in the graveyard shift, 70 to 80 overs when the ball’s doing nothing and trying to sneak in a wicket. I really want to take my bowling to the next level in this team,” he said.
More than their bowling, Australia’s major concerns are in their batting department and the inexperienced lineup has struggled since the likes of Steve Smith and David Warner were suspended.
But Marsh believes it was an opportunity, rather than a sign of weakness for the hosts. “There’s obviously been a lot of talk about that and it’s been a big build up to this Test match but there’s a great feeling around this group...now it’s about going out there and hopefully putting it together as a batting unit. But we all feel really good at the moment,” he said.
The Australian vice-captain was also asked about the spin challenge that India poses. “We know R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadejda and Kuldeep Yadav are all world-class spinners. History shows that Indian spinners haven’t had as much impact over here as they have in India. But they’re world-class bowlers and we’re very prepared for them. It will be a great contest,” he replied.
Marsh is expected to return to the Australian middle-order despite a poor outing in the UAE against Pakistan. He and brother Shaun Marsh will form the backbone of the home team’s middle-order and look to replicate their form from the Ashes last summer.
“He’s my brother and my best mate. I look up to him in every single way... hopefully people respect him for the fact he’s never given up. He keeps coming back, keeps working hard. Hopefully he can keep proving a few people wrong. I just want him to have a great summer,” he said.
‘Look at my knocks with Smith for inspiration’
Speaking ahead of the Test series against India which gets underway on Thursday here, Marsh reminisced about his partnerships with Smith in the past, the most notable being his maiden Test century with the then captain at the other end. Smith scored a double ton in that game against England in Perth last year.
“I constantly go back to that and watch my innings,” the all-rounder said. “I think it’s important for me to go back to that, I feel like I was batting really well last summer, I feel like I’m batting really well at the moment,” he added.
Speaking of his equation with Smith, who is serving a one-year ban for the ball-tampering scandal that forced a review of the Australian cricket team’s overall conduct, Marsh called him one of his “best mates”. The ban on Smith comes to an end in March next year.
“Smudger (Smith) became one of my best mates in cricket over the last couple of years. We certainly like batting together. He doesn’t give you much out in the middle,” he said.
“We just had that connection and some great partnerships I’ll always remember the rest of my life. I feel very lucky to have done that. Hopefully we’ve got a few more in us in the future,” he hoped.