Australian vice-captain Mitchell Marsh has been dropped for the first Test of the summer against India, with selectors opting instead for Victorian batsman Peter Handscomb.
Marsh was announced as one of two new vice-captains alongside fast bowler Josh Hazlewood in September, but a meagre tour of the UAE against Pakistan has seen him lose his spot in the side to Handscomb.
Marsh could only manage 30 runs in four innings in that series against Pakistan, although the door has been left open for the all-rounder to return to the Test side later in the summer.
“Mitch Marsh hasn’t been as consistent as he would have liked and we would have liked,” captain Tim Paine said today.
“We’re taking an opportunity to send him back to Shield cricket… knowing at some stage we’re probably going to need him.”
Handscomb has played 13 Tests, the last of which was the final match in Australia’s infamous tour of South Africa earlier in the year, and currently has 829 runs at an average of 43.6 to his name.
That’s a far better return than Marsh’s 1200 runs at 26 from 30 matches, and Paine said the expected life in the Adelaide pitch meant he was comfortable going into the first Test of the summer without an all-rounder. Marsh has taken 35 wickets at an average of 42 in his Test career to date.
“The wicket over the last few years here has given enough throughout the game,” said Paine.
“Going forward, we’ve got full faith in him being a Test all-rounder.
“As this series wears on and you get to places where the wickets might be a little flatter and conditions a bit warmer… that all-rounder position becomes important.”
Marsh’s omission means Marcus Harris will make his debut at the top of the order, pushing Usman Khawaja to first drop. Shaun Marsh is likely to bat at four, Handscomb at five and Travis Head at six, with Paine and the bowling attack to follow.
Marcus Harris, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Tim Paine (c, wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
The first Australia-India Test of the summer starts tomorrow, December 6, at 11am (AEDT) at the Adelaide Oval.