Handscomb will be unlucky if he misses out: Smith

Handscomb will be unlucky if he misses out: Smith

Steve Smith, the Australian captain, remains coy over the makeup of his team for the third Test starting on Thursday (December 14) in the final Ashes match at the WACA. Speculation is rife that recalled allrounder Mitchell Marsh is set to get the nod over struggling No.5 Peter Handscomb. If that change eventuates, Marsh is likely to bat at No.6 with elder brother Shaun moving up a spot.
Marsh, the WA captain, has been in spectacular batting form in domestic cricket and recently returned to bowling after major shoulder surgery earlier in the year. The 26-year-old’s ability to bowl medium-fast is seen as adding important depth for Australia, who have relied on four frontline bowlers during the opening two Tests.
Smith said selectors wanted to inspect the WACA pitch before making a call. “We haven’t picked the team yet,” Smith told reporters in Perth on Wednesday (December 13). “It’ll be unlucky if he (Handscomb) misses out. If he does miss out there’s no reason he won’t be back in the team soon.
“It is tough,” he adds. “If we do go down that route it’s purely for the reason we think we need an extra bowler, nothing to do with anybody’s batting.”
Smith was complimentary of the in-form Marsh, who has scored 680 runs in all forms of cricket this season at an average of 68 – a far cry from his Test average of 21.74. “He’s tightened up his defence quite a lot,” Smith said of Marsh. “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.”
Amid the swelling nostalgia over the final Ashes Test at the WACA, hopes have been high that the famed wicket will conjure pace and sharp bounce reminiscent of its heyday. In recent times, the wicket has been noticeably flat resulting in several batting friendly Test matches.
Smith was unsure whether the pitch would be a throwback wicket. “It’s probably not as hard as I would have liked it to be a day out, but 24 hours can change a wicket,” he said. “We’ll have another look in the morning. Hopefully it’s a bit harder and faster.”
Smith hoped the pitch would provide a more even contest between bat and ball compared to the high-scoring drawn Test between Australia and New Zealand two years ago. “It was really slow and once you got in it was almost impossible to get out,” he said. “Let’s hope it’s not that for this wicket.”