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'Bugger me, that's a question for George Bailey': Ex-selector lashes Warner over replacement call, MCG says sorry to Marsh

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27th December, 2023
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Former Australian selector Jamie Cox thinks David Warner should pull his head in after the retiring opener nominated Marcus Harris as his successor at the top of the Test team’s batting order.

Cox, who served as a national selector from 2006-11, took umbrage after Warner declared in the media conference after day one of the Second Test that Harris would be his pick to succeed him as Usman Khawaja’s opening partner ahead of Cameron Bancroft and Matt Renshaw.

Warner’s own form and whether he would get dropped before his planned SCG farewell early next month had been an ongoing issue until he clubbed a hundred in the First Test against Pakistan in Perth.

“Well bugger me – another modern first! I have never heard of a current player anointing their successor. What’s wrong with ‘that’s a question for George Bailey not me’? I need a lie down…!” Cox posted on X.

Harris, Cameron Bancroft and Matt Renshaw are all vying to fill the opening spot Warner will vacate when he retires after the SCG Test against Pakistan in January.

There have also been calls to move one of Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne or Mitch Marsh to opener, which would allow allrounder Cameron Green to return to the line-up for two home Tests against West Indies in January.

But Warner nominated Harris, who was a member of Australia’s 2023 Ashes touring squad, as his choice to take over.

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The 31-year-old Victoria left-hander boosted his hopes of succeeding Warner with a century in a tour match against Pakistan last week.

“It’s a tough one and it’s obviously up to the selectors but from my position I feel like the person who has worked their backside off and has been there for a while in the background (is Harris),” Warner told reporters after day one of the second Test against Pakistan.

“Harry’s been there, he’s toured … he’s always been that person who was next in line. If the selectors show their faith in him then I’m sure that he’ll come out and play the way he does.

“He’s not too dissimilar to me; if he sees it in his areas he goes for it and plays his shots. I think he would fit well.”

Marsh has found form batting at No.6 and declared he does not want to open the batting, while Hussey urged caution against forcing players up the order.

Australian captain Pat Cummins sidestepped the controversy when asked about a possible replacement for Warner after the close of play at the MCG on Wednesday.

“I am not a selector. I obviously speak to them, but we’ll work that out after the Sydney Test,” Cummins said.

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“My honest answer is I haven’t really been part of any conversation. I think everyone just knows we’ve got a bit of time.”

No more boos for Marsh

Four years ago, having candidly revealed he felt like most of Australia hated him, Mitch Marsh famously vowed to keep trying to win over the national team’s fans.

It’s now clear he has succeeded, turning the tide of public opinion at even the most hostile of venues.

The West Australian allrounder was mercilessly booed at the MCG when he replaced local favourite Peter Handscomb in the team for the Boxing Day Test in 2018.

But Marsh had rowdy revellers in the Shane Warne Stand singing and chanting his nickname – ‘Bison’ – on his Test return to the iconic venue against Pakistan on Wednesday.

The forgiving 32-year-old played up to the adoring crowd, clapping and dancing along with the tunes while fielding in the outer.

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He even took to replicating football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s iconic ‘Siuuuu’ celebration as hundreds of fans joined in. “That was awesome,” Australian captain Pat Cummins said after the close of play.

“He (Marsh) actually said that as he was walking off, ‘Gee, it feels a long way away from a few years ago when I was getting a different reception’.”

During the 2019 Ashes series, an emotional Marsh opened up about his experience in Melbourne the previous year. “Yeah, most of Australia hate me,” he said at the time.

He achieved the rare feat of surviving back-to-back dismissals during his innings after umpire Joel Wilson made successive blunders early on day two of the Second Test.

The Australian all-rounder was on seven when he was given out LBW to Hasan Ali in the 74th over of the first innings with the home side 4-217 but after consulting with batting partner, Marnus Labuschagne, he called for a review.

Replays showed he snicked the ball onto his pad and Marsh was given a reprieve by the third umpire.

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On the very next delivery, Hasan produced another false shot from Marsh and appealed for a caught-behind dismissal and Wilson again sent Marsh on his way.

This time, the review showed he had not hit the ball and it had brushed his pad as it carried through to wicketkeeper Muhammad Rizwan.

“Joel Wilson having a shocker, in my opinion,” said Pakistani legend Wasim Akram on Fox Cricket.

Travis Head was out early on day two after edging Shaheen Shah Afridi to slip on 17 and the rest of the batting line-up didn’t offer much resistance as the Aussies were bowled out for 318.

Marsh made 41 but extras were the second highest contributor for Australia with 52, just 11 shy of Labuschagne.

Heading into day two, Warner said Australia wanted to put the foot down in search of a first-innings score in excess of 400.

Australia resumed at 3-187 with Marnus Labuschagne (44no) and Travis Head (9no) at the crease and while they improved their scoring rate, wickets fell too regularly both before and after Pakistan took the second new ball.

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During Mitchell Starc’s (9) brief innings, the new most-expensive recruit in the Indian Premier League became just the fourth Australian – after Richie Benaud, Shane Warne and Mitchell Johnson – to record 2000 runs and 300 wickets in Tests.

Another statistical talking point popped up in Pakistan’s innings when Saud Shakeel was bowled for nine by Josh Hazlewood.

It was the first time in his 16th Test innings that he has not made it to 20.

with AAP

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