Langer weighs into Test selection debate

Australia’s T20 coach Justin Langer has thrown his support behind fellow Western Australian Shaun Marsh to break back into Australia’s Test side, but with a twist.

In a 19-Test career, Marsh has been most impressive as a top-order batsman, scoring two of his four centuries at the top of the order. Both of those knocks came in the subcontinent, against Sri Lanka.

Marsh hit 62 as opener in the Australian Test team’s intra-squad practice match in Dubai over the weekend, but Langer wants the left-hander to move down the order for the Qantas tour of India.

“It depends on which balance they go for, how Australia wants to line up,” the former Test batsman told AAP.

“If they go the traditional XI you’d pick Shaun because of his record in not only the subcontinent but for Australia.

“He deserves to play, Shaun deserves to play in the Test match. Even before his injury, he deserved to play.”

Marsh hasn’t played the long-format game since the first Test against South Africa in November when he aggravated an existing finger injury.

He scored a gritty 63 in the second innings with a broken finger against South Africa, and had 130 in the previous Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo, both innings as opener.

His previous Test before that saw him score 182 against the West Indies in Hobart in December 2015, after which he was dropped for Usman Khawaja’s return form injury.

Australia face a selection conundrum against India, with Marsh an option to replace Matthew Renshaw as opener, or to fill a middle-order role if Australia stick with four bowlers.

As West Australian coach, Langer has worked for yars with both Shaun and Mitchell Marsh – also vying for a spot in the Test team as a seam-bowling allrounder.

Fellow Western Australian Ashton Agar has put his hand up to fill the No.6 position against India, with his left-arm orthodox taking four wickets and hitting 74 in the intra-squad practice match.

Another off-spinning allrounder Glenn Maxwell has put his hand up to fill No.6, a position in which WA allrounder Hilton Cartwright was trialled on Test debut at the SCG in January.

Nic Maddinson and Callum Ferguson also had turns in the spot last summer, but like Cartwright were not named in the squad.

“I’d certainly like to be the No.6, in all countries,” Maxwell said earlier this month.

“It’d be a great position for me to try and nail down and that’s something I’m hoping to do, starting in India.”

When naming the squad interim Chairman of Selectors Trevor Hohns highlighted the need for flexibility against the world’s No.1 Test side.

“Shaun (Marsh) is proven in subcontinent conditions and is coming off a hundred in his last Test match in Sri Lanka,” Hohns said.

“He is a very versatile batsman who can slot in at the top or the middle of the order.”

The Australians play a tour match against a Mumbai side this week, before the first Test begins in Pune on February 23. (Courtesy Cricket.com.au)

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