Langer hints at Marsh recall for Boxing Day Test

By Jack Davies 24 December 2018 4
Langer hints at Marsh recall for Boxing Day Test

Mitch Marsh could be set for a return after Australia head coach Justin Langer said the all-rounder is an "attractive commodity" to have in Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test against India.

Marsh has missed the past two Tests after he was dropped in favour of Peter Handscomb for the Adelaide opener, however, a recall appears to be on the cards for the Australia vice-captain.

Handscomb has struggled in the four-Test series – which is locked at 1-1 after Australia's victory in Perth – having only managed 68 runs in four innings, with a top-score of 34.

And Langer dropped a selection hint as he talked up Marsh ahead of the third Test at the MCG, starting Wednesday.

"In a perfectly balanced side, you've got someone who can bowl some overs," Langer told reporters on Monday. "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.

"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."

Langer added: "With the schedule, you're always looking at this Test but you're always looking ahead. 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."

Langer, who is yet to make a decision, continued: "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. All those factors, trust me, we think about it.

"It's a bit sad, really; I'm not thinking about what Christmas present I'm going to give to my kids, I'm thinking about who plays spin better, whether we'll play the extra bowler, how many overs have the fast bowlers bowled. It's sad."

Star Australia spinner Nathan Lyon is set to play another key role in Melbourne, having claimed a series-high 16 wickets in two Tests.

Lyon finished with eight wickets in Perth, where Australia won by 146 runs to stay alive in the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

"Nathan Lyon has been literally world class, the way that he has been going about his business. He's been so good to have in the team," Langer said.

"There's some real confidence about him [even though] he hasn't got a title at the moment but he shows great leadership. He's like a gazelle in the field. He's having a big impact on the series."

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