Dumped veteran Shaun Marsh remains in the mix to make a shock return to the Australian Test team at the age of 37, coach Justin Langer has confirmed.
Australia’s depth is being tested heading into next weekend’s first Test against India in Adelaide after star opener David Warner was ruled out.
Will Pucovski’s concussion has also left the youngster in doubt for what would be his debut, while Joe Burns’ form woes have cast a cloud over his participation.
There is speculation that Marnus Labuschagne, who came of age at No.3 last summer but started his first-class career at the top of the order, could be asked to face the new ball, while Matthew Wade has been touted for a leap to the top.
Marcus Harris looms as the most likely option to be brought in from the cold, while Usman Khawaja has played a straight bat to questions about a recall.
But after former Test captain Allan Border this week promoted Marsh as a left-field option, Langer has made it clear an SOS isn’t out of the question.
“You never discriminate against age. He’s doing everything possible,” Langer told 7NEWS Perth’s Ryan Daniels on Friday.
“His numbers in Sheffield Shield cricket – not only this year but the back end of last year – were absolutely elite.
“There’s no more popular player in the Australian cricket team than Shaun, maybe his brother (Mitch) actually.
“It’s an incredible family, the Marsh family, they’re much loved within the team.”
Marsh, who played his last Test in January 2019 against India, and Khawaja haven’t been picked for Friday’s pink-ball tour game against the Indians.
The former is in form, however, having struck three centuries and an 88 batting at No.3 in Western Australia’s four Shield matches across October and November.
Each of his tons came after he was called into action early in WA’s innings against South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.
Whether Marsh manages to be in the right place at the right time for Australia won’t be decided until next week but Langer, who puts a premium on early runs, says he is “doing everything right”.
“You can imagine I’m very passionate about getting the opening partnership right,” the coach said.
“I know how important it is to a successful team.
“We’ll be working through that and hopefully get the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle right for the first Test match and beyond next week.”
The selectors’ decision could have knock-on effects down the order, particularly if they opt to push Labuschagne up the order and replace Warner with Marsh or young allrounder Cameron Green.
Superstar batsman Steve Smith won’t be opening but he is willing to move up from No.4 to No.3 if called upon.
“That doesn’t bother me too much, I’ve batted a fair bit at three or four,” Smith said.
“Anywhere up there I’m fine. When you bat at three you’re sometimes in second ball of the game, that’s the reality.
“So someone at three could certainly go up the top. Whether that (promoting Labuschagne) is spoken about, I’m not sure.”
– with AAP