The Ashes: WACA pitch to determine Peter Handscomb’s fate, says Steve Smith
Steve Smith stressed that pitch conditions in Perth will determine Peter Handscomb’s fate for the third Ashes Test against England.cricket Updated: Dec 13, 2017 17:15 IST
Australia are poised to select all-rounder Mitchell Marsh at the expense of Peter Handscomb for the third Ashes Test, though captain Steve Smith insisted a decision will not be made until the toss on Thursday.
Handscomb is under pressure to retain his spot in Australia’s XI, with Aussie selectors believed to be leaning towards an extra bowler in the Perth conditions against England at the WACA.
The 26-year-old batsman is averaging 47.35 at Test level, having only managed scores of 36, 12 and 14 during the Ashes series.
However, Smith stressed that a decision on Handscomb will not be based on his batting form, with the pitch set to determine the Victorian’s fate.
“It’s tough and if we do go down that route then it’s purely for the reasons that we think we need an extra bowler,” Smith told reporters on Wednesday.
“It’s nothing to do with anyone’s batting. It’s purely for the reasons we think we need an extra bowler on this wicket and the stats suggest over the last couple of years that the bowlers have had a fairly heavy workload out on this wicket.
“We’re probably leaning down that way at the moment but again it’ll depend on what we think the wicket is like [Thursday] and if it’s going to be hard, fast and bouncy that might again change our thinking.”
“It’s probably not as hard as I would have liked it to be a day out, but 24 hours can change a wicket,” the skipper added. “We’ll have another look in the morning. Hopefully it’s a bit harder and faster.”
Marsh is well positioned to add to his 21 Test appearances thanks to his ability with the bat and ball.
The 26-year-old, who was forced to return home from India midway through the Test series in March due to a shoulder injury, has scored 402 runs at an average of 44.66 in the Sheffield Shield this season.
Marsh, whose older brother Shaun was named man-of-the-match in the second Test, has also bowled 22 overs this season for two wickets.
“He’s tightened up his defence quite a lot,” Smith said. “I know speaking to him when he was back in the team a little while ago, we spoke about softening your hands up in defence - and those good length balls, not going so hard.”
First Published: Dec 13, 2017 12:33 IST