Australia coach Justin Langer on Monday hinted at picking all-rounder Mitchell Marsh for the third Test against India, starting on Boxing Day at Melbourne.
Marsh last played a Test for Australia in October (against Pakistan) and is expected to replace Peter Handscomb, who’s made just 68 runs in his last four innings.
But Langer added that the selection would depend on the pitch. The Melbourne Cricket Ground pitch was labelled poor by the International Cricket Council last year, when only 24 wickets fell in a match against England.
“I have said forever, the most important thing in Test cricket, in international cricket at the moment, are the pitches that we play on because if you have great pitches, you have contests between bat and ball. And then Test cricket will be alive and well and kicking,” said Langer.
“It was great to see some grass on it. I am really looking forward to seeing how it plays. Hopefully, it’s a contest between bat and ball because it’s important, not just for this series, this Test match but also for world cricket, actually.
“If we don’t, if we play on flat wickets which don’t do anything, then it becomes a really boring game, and that’s from someone who probably loves Test cricket more than anyone in this room.”
About Marsh, the coach said,“In a perfectly balanced side, you’ve got someone who can bowl some overs. And Mitch becomes an attractive commodity on a wicket (that) unlike Adelaide and Perth … although there’s a bit of moisture in it, we also know the history of it.”
Langer, however, didn’t rule Handscomb out of the MCG Test. “Pete’s a very good player of spin bowling … and Mitch is a pretty good player of spin bowling too. We’ll weigh up all those things, and they’re the hard decisions.”
Of the importance of managing the workload of pacers in an intensely fought Test series, Langer said, “Our fast bowlers have been lucky, we’ve bowled less overs than India’s bowlers at the moment, particularly (Jasprit) Bumrah, and that’s an important part of the series.
“The more we can look after the guys, the better. With the schedule, you’re always looking at this Test but you’re always looking ahead,” Langer said.
“We’re always looking at how we’re trying to manage it. In this instance, this is the only Test we’re thinking about. But we’re always aware that there’s two back-to-back Test matches, which is tough.”