Mitchell Marsh will drop to No. 3 when Travis Head is back

“I’ve obviously batted there a lot over the last couple of years, so I feel really comfortable at three,” Marsh says Mitchell Marsh put on a record 259 alongside David Warner at the top of the innings on Friday against Pakistan, and had made 52 as opener in the match before that. But he confirmed that he would be dropping down to No. 3 when Travis Head returns. Head had been out with a hand injury, but seems likely to play against Netherlands on Wednesday, having even progressed to practicing range-hitting (six-hitting), on Tuesday. Now, Marsh will drop down one spot, and Marnus Labuschagne will likely exit the XI.

“I mentioned to David Warner, maybe he can bat three, but I got a firm no from him,” Marsh joked on the eve of the match. “But yeah, very happy to go back down to three. I’ve obviously batted there a lot over the last couple of years, so I feel really comfortable at three. And if and when Heady comes back in, I think that’s the best position for me to play for this team.” Marsh’s numbers at first-drop are not especially impressive, though: he averages 22.25 after 12 innings there. This is compared to his average of 60.55 when opening, though that figure was greatly boosted by his having hit a career-best 121 off 108 on Friday.

He has had a fruitful 2023, however, averaging 45.92 across 14 innings to make himself a fixture in Australia’s ODI line-up. Marsh said there were no major technical changes that spurred this growth – only hard work. “Not a whole lot’s changed [with my game],” Marsh said. “I’ve just probably not given up on the fact that I was striving for something and kept working hard through periods of time that were tougher than others. “In the last couple of years, I feel as I’ve been as consistent as I have been, which was something that I was always striving for. I guess all the best players in the world that you look up to, and certainly in our team, they’re so consistent. And that’s what I have been.”

Australia lost their two first games in the tournament, but have now won two in a row. On the surface, their next opposition would appear to be the softest they might face in the league stage. But Marsh said Australia were taking nothing for granted against a team that’s beaten South Africa. “There’s absolutely no easy games. And you go into every game having done all the appropriate homework and hopefully you can come out with a win,” he said. “So, tomorrow is no different for us. We respect the Netherlands; they’re playing some good cricket and that will be a tough challenge.”

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