WA mull over Marsh s place
Saun Marsh. Pic: Getty Images

WA's dilemma over where to bat Shaun Marsh in their critical Sheffield Shield match starting tomorrow pales besides NSW's issue with spinner Stephen O'Keefe.

Marsh will return to the Warriors team in place of his injured brother Mitch, whose side strain is not expected to rule him out of the shield final should WA qualify.

Shaun Marsh is likely to bat at No.5 in Canberra despite making a brilliant comeback Test century one spot higher last month.

The left-hander has had his greatest success for WA at No.5 where he has scored four of his seven shield centuries and had his best scores of 84 and 127 not out this season.

Despite being dropped for the third Test, Marsh was praised for his successful return in the first Test by Australian captain Michael Clarke late last week.

WA's shaky top order could tempt coach Justin Langer and captain Adam Voges to promote the veteran one or two places higher.

The selectors have kept faith with Marcus Harris despite just 93 runs at 15.50 in his return to the team. The lack of top-order alternatives played its part in his retention.

The selectors also recalled that Harris kept NSW pace trump Doug Bollinger at bay for more than 30 overs during the first innings of WA's win over the Blues at the WACA Ground last month.

Mitch Marsh tore a side muscle in the loss to Queensland at the Gabba last week. He did not bowl again and batted with difficulty at No.8 in both innings, scoring eight and 13.

A WACA spokesman said Marsh was recovering well and should be fit to play in the shield final at the end of the month.

WA will host the final if they win outright, but could still host it, or qualify, with a first-innings win.

The Warriors were outplayed by the Bulls at the Gabba, the decision to insert the hosts after winning the toss backfiring when Queensland performed well against the pink ball and under the lights.

NSW have been strengthened by the return of Test all-rounder Steve Smith, who will lead the team, and spinner Nathan Lyon.

Their return may force O'Keefe from the team despite career-best figures last week that made him the leading shield wicket-taker this season.

The left-armer claimed 5-89 and 6-70 in the tense draw with South Australia to have 38 wickets at 20.05 this summer.

It was the first time in his decade-long career that he had taken a five-wicket haul.

Canberra's Manuka Oval has been used for shield matches in each of the past two seasons and is set to host the final should NSW finish on top of the ladder.

Spinners claimed just nine of the wickets to fall at the ground last season and eight the year before that.

Smith's ability to bowl high-quality leg breaks in the Test series against South Africa may enable him to become Lyon's sole spin partner this week.


  • TEAMS *

  • WA *: Marcus North, Cam Bancroft, Marcus Harris, Adam Voges (capt.), Shaun Marsh, Ashton Turner, Sam Whiteman, Ashton Agar, Nathan Rimmington, Jason Behrendorff, Michael Hogan, Ryan Duffield (12th to be named).

  • NSW *: Ryan Carters, Nic Maddinson, Steve Smith (capt.), Ben Rohrer, Kurtis Patterson, Peter Nevill, Sean Abbott, Trent Copeland, Doug Bollinger, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Stephen O'Keefe (12th to be named).

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