Australia vs Pakistan 2023-24 – Mitchell Marsh: ‘Past battling, I’m here to enjoy my cricket and have fun’

Incumbent allrounder Mitchell Marsh admitted he’s unsure over his Test position, but vowed to continue batting aggressively if selected for Australia’s opening Test of the home summer against Pakistan in Perth.

Marsh, 32, was part of Australia’s memorable World Cup triumph, where he made 441 runs with two hundreds including an unbeaten 177, on the back of reclaiming his Test spot during the Ashes and hitting a rapid century at Headingley to make the most of an injury to fellow West Australian Cameron Green.

He was preferred in the fifth Test over Green, who subsequently only played three matches at the World Cup and has seemingly succumbed to a taxing schedule where he has spent much of the year overseas.

But Green, 24, has signalled his intention to win back his Test position by playing in Western Australia’s current Sheffield Shield match against Queensland at the Gabba and next week’s Prime Minister’s XI four-day game against Pakistan in Canberra.

It’s a contrast to Marsh, who is currently having a breather ahead of the first Test starting on December 14. The battle between the allrounders appears to be Australia’s biggest selection headache, but Marsh – much like his attacking batting – was taking a positive approach.

“I’m past battling, I’m here to enjoy my cricket and have fun,” Marsh told reporters in Perth. “I absolutely love playing for Australia. I worked really hard to get another opportunity during the Ashes and my attitude is ‘what will be, will be’, so I’ve done everything I can.

“We have a lot of options. Whoever plays will do the job.”

While they vie for the No. 6 spot, Marsh hoped he could play alongside Green as they did in the fourth Ashes Test when Green batted at No. 7 and Australia uncharacteristically went in without a specialist spinner.

“He’s a special talent. We’ve got a great relationship. We’re super close on and off the field,” Marsh said of Green. “I always joke that there’s probably not a lot I can teach him on the cricket field, but he knows I’m always there for him and hopefully we can play a lot of cricket together.”

If he does get the nod, Marsh was excited about the prospect of taking on Pakistan’s quicks on an expected bouncy surface at Optus Stadium. It will be the fourth Test match at the 60,000-seat venue, which is on the opposite bank of the Swan River to the WACA, but the first for Marsh on a ground he has starred many times for Perth Scorchers in the BBL.

“The way I’m going to bat won’t change. I feel like I’ve found my most consistent method over the last couple of years and that’s allowed me to really enjoy my cricket.” he said. “I haven’t played a [Test] match here at Perth Stadium, so obviously, if I’m selected, I’m super excited for that.”

There will be particular intrigue over the surface which played sedately in the corresponding fixture last summer when Australia beat West Indies in a match that went well into the fifth day.

The drop-in wicket last week was moved into the stadium’s playing surface having been curated at Optus Stadium since February. It contains the same local clay and grass species as the surfaces at the WACA ground in a bid to replicate its famous pace and bounce.

“I often say this is the best wicket in the world, I truly mean that,” Marsh said. “It’s fast, it’s bouncy, it brings both batters and bowlers into the game. That’s what you want, an even contest. It’s a great place to play.”

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

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