Mitchell Marsh gets the call in place of Travis Head at The Oval.
Mitchell Marsh gets the call in place of Travis Head at The Oval.

How arch rival got Marsh back on Test track

Honest feedback about his cricketing fitness when he was dropped from the Test team, and an urge to emulate England all-rounder Ben Stokes, pushed Mitchell Marsh to "work his backside off" for his Ashes debut at The Oval.

The 27-year-old, who has played 31 Tests but only three in the past 18 months, was included for the final clash, predominantly for his bowling, at the expense of number five batsman Travis Head who tailed off after a solid start to the series.

It will be Marsh's first match for Australia in any format since the Boxing Day Test against India, his only appearance of that series, where he made scores of nine and 10 and didn't take a wicket.

The all-rounder was then dumped and, despite being named vice-captain during the two Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates last year, also lost his Cricket Australia contract.

He was a surprise pick for plenty when included in the 17-man Ashes squad but had solid returns playing for Australia A in July.

And having turned around his work ethic, modelling it on England's heroic all-rounder Stokes, Australia captain Tim Paine said Marsh was due some reward.

"I think Mitch has worked his backside off for the past six or seven months," Paine said.

"He got some pretty honest feedback when he was dropped during the Indian series about where he was at both physically and mentally with his cricket.

 

Marsh had a rough time against India late last year.
Marsh had a rough time against India late last year.

 

"He had a choice to make, whether to sulk about it or do something about it. At the moment he is as fit as we've ever seen him."

Paine said Marsh, who has a Test batting average of 25 and 35 wicket at an average of 43, had been instructed to watch Stokes, regarded as the hardest working player in the England squad, as an example of what's required to be an international all-rounder.

Not only did Stokes bat his team to victory at Headingley, he also powered through 14 overs on the second day to keep England in the game.

"We have constantly spoken to Mitch about that sort of level of fitness where he can bowl 25 overs then come out and score a hundred," Paine said.

"That's something Mitch has watched up close and certainly something he is aspiring to.

 

Marsh was told to mould his game on Ben Stokes.
Marsh was told to mould his game on Ben Stokes.

"When you're a boy the size he is, it's hard to run in all day when you're carrying a few extra kilos, so he's worked really hard to work them off, he's always worked very hard on his cricket and we know the talent he's got.

"We're looking forward to seeing him put all his hard work into action this week."

Marsh could be called on to do a fair bit of bowling at The Oval with Paine conceding the four Tests had taken a toll on the fast bowling group.

A decision on who of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle won't play will be decided in the hours before the toss after a final assessment on who has the most "energy" to get through the game.

Australia hasn't won an Ashes series in England since 2001, and while the urn has been retained, Paine has maintained his team is desperate to hold it up after another victory at The Oval to break that 18-year drought.

Mitchell Marsh has impressed with his work ethic on the tour.
Mitchell Marsh has impressed with his work ethic on the tour.
News Corp Australia


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