Allrounder Mitchell Marsh hasn’t covered himself in glory in his previous stints in the Australia Test team so why oh why has he earned an Ashes call-up?
In 21 Test matches the 26-year-old averages just 21.74 with the bat and 37.48 with the ball and had slipped behind Glenn Maxwell and Hilton Cartwright in the allrounder pecking order.
The younger of the Marsh brothers struggled with injury last season though he found form in ODI cricket against New Zealand hitting an unbeaten 76 in Canberra but he struggled against Pakistan before injury ruled him out of the Champions Trophy.
Most thought that Marsh’s Test career was over with WA teammate Cartwright providing a similar skillset and enjoying a decent start to his career in the ultimate format.
Maxwell was added to the squad as cover for David Warner and the elder Marsh for the first Test against England and has since scored a double hundred and a 96 in the Sheffield Shield which he might have thought would have helped him press for inclusion.
However Maxwell’s spin bowling has barely been utilized by skipper Steve Smith when he has played and Australia will be wary of the workloads of their three frontline quicks.
Marsh scored a hundred in the last match played at the WACA, the ground that will host the third Ashes Test, but bowled just nine overs.
His direct rival for as a seam-bowling allrounder, Cartwright bowled just seven and ended wicketless while Marsh bagged two second innings scalps.
In recent times the WACA pitch has become something of a batsman’s paradise with it’s true bounce and it seems that Marsh is the best player Australia have available to fill their specifications.
With their opponents already sporting four seamers the selectors found themselves in a quandary; pick Maxwell and suffer without an extra quick or recall Marsh and suffer derision.
Suffering derision clearly doesn’t bother Trevor Hohns and his cohorts and they have recalled the man who filled the tricky number six slot the last time Australia played a Test at the WACA.
In the second innings of that Test against South Africa Marsh would bowl 26 overs collecting two wickets as the tourists batted Australia out of the game with a mammoth 540/8 declared.
Put in the simplest of terms Cartwright and Marsh went head-to-head for this position and the former came up short both in terms of runs and wickets.
Neither is the ideal option and though both are still relatively young and could grow into their Test careers so far they have left Australia longing for Shane Watson which is enough to send a chill down anyone’s spine.
World class seam-bowling allrounders simply don’t fall from the sky and despite having a tremendous talent pool Australia haven’t been able to produce the kind of quality they would like in this area.
Marsh is certainly no Ben Stokes but Australia feel that he is a man who can do a job for them, one that might ensure the fitness of their three prize quicks Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins if not influence the result of the match.