Marsh likely to replace Handscomb

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In a bid to include an extra seamer on what could be a batting friendly WACA track Australia could be set to axe Peter Handscomb in favour of Mitchell Marsh.

Marsh was called into the squad specifically for the third Test at his home ground in Perth with his knowledge of conditions and seam bowling decisive factors.

It is Marsh’s bowling that saw him included ahead of spin-bowling allrounder Glenn Maxwell who scored more runs than the younger Marsh brother in recent Sheffield Shield rounds.

Australia coach Darren Lehmann has been impressed by Marsh’s return to cricket after injuries ruined his 2016/17 season.

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He has been leading Western Australia in his brother’s absence and shown good touch with the bat though he hasn’t found the wicket-taking touch with the ball.

Handscomb meanwhile has shown grit in the middle-order but hasn’t delivered runs with his best effort against England his 36 in the first innings of the second Test in Adelaide.

Lehmann said of Marsh: “We’ve got all the reports back and JL [Justin Langer] has been really impressed with him.

“He’s surprised by bowling a couple of games ago, he surprised us as well to be perfectly honest. His batting has been exceptional all summer and he’s led from the front as captain. He deserves his chance.

“Other people might be unlucky to miss out but Mitchell fills the role we need for this particular Test match. As a batter he was in some good form. But we needed his bowling as well. Now he’s bowling, we can consider him.”

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Lehmann indicated that the XI will only be decided once they have had a good look at the pitch and get an idea of what the weather will be like.

He added: “It depends on the wickets, we’ll just wait and see. They said it’s going to have some pace and bounce in it, a bit like the old WACA.

“It’s pretty hot this week so we’ll have a better idea probably on Tuesday/Wednesday of what we’re going to go with.

“We just want to have the ability to get 20 wickets. So if the three and Nathan can do that so be it. If we decide to go with an extra one it would be for that reason.

“You’d love to be able to make them available for all Test matches and all one-dayers. End of the day we just don’t know how they’re going to travel. At the moment our focus is just this game, so we can’t look too far ahead or behind.”

The third Test against England gets underway in Perth on December 14.

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