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Sayers out, Marsh in, Handscomb in doubt


Mitch Marsh has been rushed into Australia’s 13-man squad for the third Ashes Test, with the allrounder in the mix to play alongside his brother on their home deck.

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National selectors, swayed by Marsh’s form with the bat and recent return to bowling, have called Western Australia’s captain into camp ahead of Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis.

It’s the only change to the squad named for the first two Tests against England, with Marsh replacing Chadd Sayers ahead of the WACA Test that starts next Thursday.

There is every chance the hosts will name an unchanged XI as they seek to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series.

However Peter Handscomb has passed 50 in one of his nine first-class knocks since the start of summer. If the Perth pitch is flat he could be axed in favour of Marsh.

Mitch Marsh has played seven Tests alongside brother Shaun, the most recent in India earlier this year.

He returned home after the second Test of that tour, undergoing a shoulder reconstruction.

The 26-year-old, appointed captain of his state during the off-season, resumed bowling off a long run last month and scored 141 in a Sheffield Shield game at the WACA.

Selectors have made no secret of the fact they’d like to squeeze an allrounder into their XI, worried about the workload of frontline quicks Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

“At the moment it’s OK (without an allrounder) but you certainly look at it,” coach Darren Lehmann said last week.

“They’re just handy when you have that long second innings… and if you get an injury during the game.

“We rate him (Mitch Marsh) highly and his output with the bat’s been really impressive this summer.”

Marsh has struggled with the bat in 21 Tests – passing 50 twice and averaging 21.74 – but looked a different beast at domestic level in recent months.

“I was under a lot of pressure with my cricket (before I got injured),” he said a week ago.

“I had a bit of time away. I got my body right. I worked with my batting coach Scott Meuleman over a six-month period and I’ve learned a few things.

“I’m ready to go as an allrounder.”

Australia’s 13-man squad for third Test: David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (capt), Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Mitch Marsh, Tim Paine, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.


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