Australia could radically change their team for the fifth Ashes Test – with a very surprising role for Mitch Marsh
- Aussies could play Marsh as a special hitter
- Marsh is likely to be picked over Green
- Spin-friendly soil will please Murphy
Australia would be willing to play Mitch Marsh as special hitter and pick just four bowlers for the Test at The Oval if the in-form Old Trafford all-rounder falters.
Marsh remains one of Australia’s two big fitness concerns for Thursday’s fifth Test, the other being Mitchell Starc’s left shoulder after injuring himself in Manchester.
Medical staff are confident Starc can play at The Oval after recovering from an AC joint injury last week and being able to continue bowling the next day.
Marsh’s fitness could have a bigger impact, however, as Australia seek their first full Ashes series win in England in 22 years with a win or a draw.
A Test after playing Marsh and fellow all-rounder Cameron Green in Manchester, players will likely have to choose between the two if they bring Todd Murphy to The Oval.
Mitch Marsh could be selected as the specialist batsman for the fifth Ashes Test
Mitchell Starc is worried about injuries after injuring his shoulder in Manchester
Australia has yet to see the pitch for the final Test of the series, but the south London ground is considered one of the more spin-friendly venues in England.
When there is a selection bottleneck between Marsh and Green, the former has made almost irresistible arguments for the front runner.
After scoring 118 points while deputizing for Green at Headingley, Australia might not have been able to keep the Ashes with a draw at Old Trafford if Marsh hadn’t gone 31 points unbeaten on day four.
In contrast, Green didn’t have the streak he would have liked, averaging 20.6 with the stick and four wickets at 47 with the ball.
The only problem for Australia might be Marsh’s bowling skills.
Medical staff will be keeping a close eye on him until Thursday after he was off the field for a period on day three due to a stiffness in Manchester and stopped bowling after that.
Should problems persist, Australia could potentially be left without a fourth seaman if Marsh were picked ahead of Green.
Even so, McDonald said that wouldn’t necessarily be an obstacle for Marsh.
Australia trainer Andrew McDonald says runs are top notch, especially at The Oval
McDonald says the Australian team previously played three quicks and a spinner
“He’s in a bit of pain, so he wasn’t on the field.” “So I’m not going to hide that,” McDonald said.
“Does it affect his position in the team? I think the team has played three quicks and one spinner a lot in the past if you look at it that way.
“We’ve had the luxury of having all-rounders, especially Cameron Green, that’s changed the shape of the team over time.”
“But I mean runs are premium first and foremost.”
Australia’s young all-rounder prodigy a few months ago, Green now faces the opportunity to spend some time as Marsh’s understudy.
The 24-year-old’s loss of form comes during a six-month period in which he spent two nights in his own bed, with a series of tests in India and the IPL.
“People probably conclude that that affected the way he’s going about things around here,” McDonald said.
“But it’s a bit like Steve Smith, I think he’s in good shape.” He’s working hard on his game.
“A lot of our batters are working on the right things and the way they’re going about it and the heats are coming up.”