The talk is all about Virat Kohli right now but the Australian bowlers’ preparation for other Indian batsmen is as detailed and anyone who thinks otherwise is plain “silly”, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh said Tuesday. Gearing up for the four-match Test series that starts Thursday here, Marsh said his team’s bowlers have strategies in place and would be aiming for perfect execution when the action begins.
“We all know Virat’s a great player. We’ll have our plans for him and hopefully we can execute them. But if people think we’re not prepared for the other batsmen in the Indian team, who are all very good players, then they’d be pretty silly,” said Marsh. Marsh said the new faces and inexperience in the Australian batting line-up should be seen as an opportunity, rather than a sign of weakness for the hosts.
“There’s obviously been a lot of talk about that and it’s been a big build up to this Test match but there’s a great feeling around this group…now it’s about going out there and hopefully putting it together as a batting unit. But we all feel really good at the moment,” he said.
The Australian vice-captain was also asked about the spin challenge that India poses and the fact that the visiting tweakers have never had a particularly good run in this country.
“We know R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadejda and Kuldeep Yadav are all world-class spinners. History shows that Indian spinners haven’t had as much impact over here as they have in India. But they’re world-class bowlers and we’re very prepared for them. It will be a great contest,” he replied.
Marsh is expected to return to the Australian middle-order despite a poor outing in the UAE against Pakistan. He and brother Shaun Marsh will form the backbone of the home team’s middle-order and look to replicate their form from the Ashes last summer.
“He’s my brother and my best mate. I look up to him in every single way… hopefully people respect him for the fact he’s never given up. He keeps coming back, keeps working hard. Hopefully he can keep proving a few people wrong. I just want him to have a great summer,” he said.
The all-rounder said he is also fully fit to bowl and hopes to be a vital fifth cog in the Australian attack, comprising of three pacers and Nathan Lyon. “I have got some good overs under my belt the last couple of weeks for Western Australia. My goal for this summer is to start chipping in with the ball and get a few more wickets for the team.
“I love coming on in the graveyard shift, 70 to 80 overs when the ball’s doing nothing and trying to sneak in a wicket. I really want to take my bowling to the next level in this team,” he said.
“I think number six is a great position to bat especially if you’ve bowled a few overs. I’m doing my best to make the number six position my own in this team, so that’s all I can do,” he added.
Australia now have two vice-captains in place, with Josh Hazlewood the other one, and like him, Marsh outlined that the start of the cricket summer is a special time, never mind that this is the first home series since the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
“We want to play an exciting brand of cricket that people want to come and watch. We know there’s going to be a lot of Indian fans here too, so that’s always exciting to play in front of them. But we are just pumped to get back playing in front of our fans,” he said.
Marsh recently played Shield cricket at the Adelaide Oval. The pitch has been prepared exactly like it would have been for a day-night Test and the all-rounder said that it would provide ample opportunity for both batsmen and bowlers.
“It was a very good cricket wicket. We won the toss and bowled first. During the four-day game, In Test cricket you get the extra day where the wicket can potentially break up.
“…and there was enough in it with the new ball to take wickets. Once you got in, it was Adelaide Oval. It was very even for both sides, I thought,” he signed off.
I constantly go back to knocks played with Smith, it’s important for me
Going back to knocks played alongside the banned Steve Smith is a source of positivity for Australian vice-captain Mitchell Marsh, who hopes to partner the former skipper a few more times once his suspension ends. Speaking ahead of the Test series against India which gets underway on Thursday here, Marsh reminisced about his partnerships with Smith in the past, the most notable being his maiden Test century with the then captain at the other end.
Smith scored a double ton in that game against England in Perth last year. “I constantly go back to that and watch my innings,” the all-rounder said. “I think it’s important for me to go back to that, I feel like I was batting really well last summer, I feel like I’m batting really well at the moment,” he added.
Speaking of his equation with Smith, who is serving a one-year ban for the ball-tampering scandal that forced a review of the Australian cricket team’s overall conduct, Marsh called him one of his “best mates”. The ban on Smith comes to an end in March next year.
“Smudger (Smith) became one of my best mates in cricket over the last couple of years. We certainly like batting together. He doesn’t give you much out in the middle,” he said.
“We just had that connection and some great partnerships I’ll always remember the rest of my life. I feel very lucky to have done that. Hopefully we’ve got a few more in us in the future,” he hoped.
And what exactly makes batting with Smith so special for him? Marsh said the simplicity of his approach always stood out. “When you’re batting at the other end with Steve Smith it takes your mind off the fact you’re out there. You can switch off and watch him do his work – pretty awesome to watch.
“We both don’t really communicate much out in the middle. Keep going, watch the ball, swing hard. That’s about it. It sounds stupid but that’s really all it is when you’re batting together,” he said.