MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Shaun Marsh has valuable experience in the subcontinent and should slot into the vacant number six spot in Australia’s batting order for the upcoming tour of India, his state coach Justin Langer has said.
Marsh has not played since breaking a finger as an opening batsman in the first test against South Africa in November but the 33-year-old was named in the 16-man squad for the four-test series against India, which starts in Pune on February 23.
All-rounder Mitchell Marsh, Shaun’s younger brother, played at number six in the same match against the Proteas but was dropped for the second test in favour of a specialist batsman and then overlooked for the rest of the home summer.
The spot has become something of a headache for selectors, who churned through Callum Ferguson, Nic Maddinson and all-rounder Hilton Cartwright during series against South Africa and Pakistan, with none of the three able to cement their place.
With rookie Matt Renshaw likely to be retained as opening batsman after impressing in his four tests over the summer, Shaun Marsh is in a battle with his brother and hard-hitting all-rounder Glenn Maxwell for the middle order position.
“It depends on which balance they go for, how Australia wants to line up,” Western Australia coach Langer told Australian Associated Press.
”If they go the traditional XI you’d pick Shaun because of his record in not only the subcontinent but for Australia.
“He deserves to play, Shaun deserves to play in the test match. Even before his injury, he deserved to play.”
Shaun Marsh, who has an average of 40.15 from 19 tests in a career blighted by injury, has never toured India with the test side but has scored two centuries in Sri Lanka, including his 130 in the third test in Colombo in August.
Langer, seen as heir apparent to head coach Darren Lehmann, will coach Australia’s Twenty20 team in a three-match series against Sri Lanka starting in Melbourne on Friday.
The T20 squad is without several first-choice players including captain Steve Smith, batsman David Warner and paceman Mitchell Starc, who are all in camp preparing for India.
That has allowed a fairytale selection for 36-year-old Western Australia batsman Michael Klinger, who has grafted at state level for nearly two decades and is in line for his first international cap after an outstanding tournament for the Perth Scorchers in the domestic T20 ‘Big Bash’.
“I’d be amazed if he is not in the first XI,” Langer said of Klinger.
“If you look at his numbers, the system we use in Western Australia, he and Aaron Finch are easily the two leading players in Australian T20 in that squad.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford