With a 2-0 lead over England, Australian captain Steve Smith is confident of wrapping up the series in the third Test at WACA stadium in Perth. But with the wicket known for aiding fast bowlers, the 28-year old is considering to pack up the Aussie bowling line up with an extra seamer in the form of returning allrounder Mitchell Marsh.
Speaking at a news conference in Perth, the skipper said, “We’re going to have another look at the wicket in the morning and decide if we need that extra bowling option. The stats suggest over the last couple of years the bowlers have had a pretty heavy workload on this wicket, so we’re probably leaning that way at the moment. It’s probably not as hard as I’d have liked it to be a day out but 24 hours can change a lot and in the morning hopefully it’s a bit harder and faster,” he said.
With Shaun Marsh scoring a century and winning the man-of-the-match award at Adelaide, it appears that Peter Handscomb is the likely choice who will have to sit out of the team in case Mitchell gets selected. The right-hand batsman has scored just 62 runs in three innings in the series and has looked slightly out of touch.
But Smith stressed that Mitchell’s selection would not be made to replace any batsman. “If we do go down that route then it’s purely because we think we need an extra bowler on this wicket, nothing to do with anyone’s batting,” he said.
Talking about Handscomb, the right-hand batsman added that it would be unlucky if he did not get to play in Perth. “If we do go down the route of Pete missing out, it’s unlucky. We still see a very bright future (for him) indeed. If he is to miss out, there’s no reason he won’t be back in the team soon,” he said.
Talking about Mitchell, who is returning to the national side for the first time since February after suffering a shoulder injury, Smith said the allrounder has worked on his skills in recent months. “I think he’s tightened up his defence quite a little bit. In defence, he has softened his hands up a bit. He still putting away the bad ball, he hits the ball probably as hard as anyone I’ve seen. He’s a strong lad,” the skipper said.
The third Test between England and Australia in Perth will start on December 14.