Australia want all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who has been called in for the fifth Ashes Test in place of Travis Head, to emulate the fitness and durability of Ben Stokes, if he is to cement his spot in the side.
Tim Paine, the Australia captain, revealed that Marsh had lost his spot during the home series against India earlier this year because the selectors felt he was not fit enough to shoulder the responsibilities required of him.
Marsh has since worked towards addressing those issues, finding inspiration in England's Ben Stokes, who bowled 24 overs practically unchanged at Headingley, before producing a batting miracle in the fourth innings. Skipper Paine has urged Marsh to view Stokes's heroic effort as a benchmark to aspire towards.
In Mitchell Marsh's last Test appearance against England he made 1️⃣0️⃣1️⃣!— ICC (@ICC) September 11, 2019
Excited to see him in action tomorrow? pic.twitter.com/3HJ6P5Rlu3
"During this Ashes, even watching Ben Stokes go about it, we've constantly spoken to him about him being at that level of fitness where you can bowl 25, 30 overs and then come out and score a hundred," Paine said. "That's something that Mitch has watched up close, and something that he's aspiring to."
Paine also credited Marsh for responding positively after getting dropped owing to poor performances in the UAE against Pakistan and at home against India. "I think Mitch has worked his backside off for the last six or seven months. He got some pretty honest feedback when he was dropped during the Indian series, about where he was at both physically and with his cricket."
Obviously if you're a boy the size he is, it's hard to run in all day when you're carrying a few extra kilos.
The difference a fit Marsh could make was obvious in Australia's tour game against Derbyshire, which the visitors won by an innings and 54 runs. The 27-year-old was the top scorer with 74 batting at No.3 and also bowled economically, picking up three wickets. He can also take solace from the fact that the last time he played against England, in January 2018, he scored 101 in the first innings in Sydney.
"Obviously if you're a boy the size he is, it's hard to run in all day when you're carrying a few extra kilos. So he's worked hard to work them off," Paine added. "He's always worked very hard on his cricket, and we know the talent that he's got. So we're looking forward to seeing him put all his hard work into action this week."
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