Australia all-rounder Mitchell Marsh was seen as the vital Number 6 who could provide the balance in the team on a tough Test series in India. But after India were bundled out for 74 overs, giving the visitors victory in the first Test in Pune within three days, the 26-year-old is still waiting to get a bowl.
Australia used only new ball bowlers, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood besides the spin duo of Steve O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon.
Steve O’Keefe destroyed India for 105 and 107, capturing 6/35 in either innings, with his 12/70 the best bowling performance by an Australia bowler in a Test in India.
So, does the younger of the Marsh brothers in the side feel he will get a bowl in the second Test starting at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch on Saturday?
“Guess you have to ask the skipper. It depends on how many overs we bowl as a team. I guess I will get to bowl at some stage,” he told journalists here on Thursday after a team practice session.
The pitch debate has roared on since the curators laid out a dry, crumbling surface for the first Test in Pune. The track has been rated as ‘poor’ by the International Cricket Council following an adverse report by the match referee, Chris Broad.
The Indian cricket Board has less than a fortnight to reply to that finding, while they, as well as the Chinnaswamy Stadium groundsmen, will be under pressure to ensure there is no fresh scrutiny on the pitch during the second Test.
The Pune pitch has attracted a deluge of criticism, and former Australia pace bowler, Merv Hughes, has reportedly called for ‘neutral curators’. Marsh said the Aussie camp was not fretting much over the pitch.
“I don’t have a take on it. We play on the 22 yards, and that is the case for both the teams. The pitch is prepared and we just play.
“It looks like a pretty decent wicket. It looks pretty dry, there are a few cracks already. That said, we’re not going to read too much into the wicket.
“There is 22 yards, both sides are going to bat and bowl, and for us it is about doing well as individuals and as a team. So, the wicket will play as it plays, and we will deal with it at that time.”
The Dubai experience
But Marsh hopes to put into practice the hard work done during the preparatory camp in Dubai, where some of the Australia batsmen trained without the front pads on to use the bat against spin, and try and avoid falling leg before.
“Personally, it’s something I have learnt from my debut in Dubai a couple of years ago (vs Pakistan in 2014). I had hard hands when I first played in the sub-continent, and I have tried to work on my defence.
“It was about learning to play with soft hands, so that it takes the fielders around the bat out of the game as much as possible.”
“The Pune victory was one of the best I have played in, in my 20 Tests. It was fantastic. To be able to spend 80 balls (76 balls, 69 minutes) in the second innings was great.
“Personally, it has given me a lot of confidence to hope and score a few runs in this game.”