Mitchell Marsh facing genuine fight for Aussie all-rounder role from fresh batch of challengers

The good news is that Mitch Marsh has seen a specialist, does not need surgery and may be fit to play the third round of the Sheffield Shield.

The bad news for Marsh is that while he has dealt with a series of injuries Australia has developed a job-lot of rivals for the all-rounder role.

Shane Watson used to say the best thing about being an all-rounder is there is very little competition for your place in the national side, but Marsh has two competitors in his own team and another sharpening his resume in Queensland.

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Ashton Agar has put himself right back in Test frame.Source:Getty Images

For the first time in a long, long, time, Australia has a glut of — potential — all-rounders.

Marsh, 28, rolled his ankle in the first round of the Indian Premier League. He had to wait for a flight to be arranged from the UAE before returning home and then sit out a two-week hotel quarantine in Perth before a specialist could review the injury.

The captain of the West Australian Shield side was released from quarantine on Sunday and assessed earlier this week.

It is understood his condition will be monitored and assessed in a week or so before a decision is made to fly him to Adelaide where he could join the state team ahead of the international summer.

Coming off a seven-wicket haul and a solid performance with the bat in the last Ashes Test of 2019, Marsh was hoping for a productive 2019-20, but had only himself to blame after he broke a hand punching a wall during an early Shield game.

The all-rounder emerged from quarantine this week in time to see two rivals put their hand up with performances that are sure to catch the selectors’ eye and a third consolidate his chances.

Mitchell Marsh suddenly has a few challengers.Source:Getty Images

Queensland’s Michael Neser, 30, has been Australian 12th man for 10 matches since 2018. A bowler by trade he has been a handy lower-order batsman without reaching three figures. That changed when the quick took five wickets and then scored a maiden first-class century in Queensland’s thrilling win over Tasmania this week.

At the same time, Western Australia’s Ashton Agar matched Neser’s five wickets and a century in WA’s win over South Australia.

Agar played just two matches in the 2013 Test series and two more in Bangladesh four years later. At just 26 years of age he has plenty of cricket left in him.

Another Perth product, Cameron Green, is considered by many to be the man who could bring to Australian cricket the impact with bat and ball that Ben Stokes provides for England.

Green impressed early with the ball, but the 21-year-old was forced to play as a batsman for most of last summer after injuring his back.

The youngster duly scored 699 runs, hit three centuries and averaged 63 for his state, a performance that caught the eye of Aussie captain Tim Paine and moved Ricky Ponting to call for his inclusion in the Test team. Green scored a half century in WA’s first innings.

Cameron Green was among the runs.Source:AAP

Is Michael Neser a genuine all-rounder?Source:Getty Images

Just last week Watson told News Corp a player such as Green has the world at his feet.

“From a batting perspective it looks like he has got it together. Some of those highlights I saw last year from Sheffield Shield cricket, goodness me, far out, he is an incredibly dominant young batsman — the power and the strokes he has got are impressive,” he said.

“The challenge he faces with the bowling is managing the body, it takes a while as a young bowler for your body to get used to what it needs to do. You have to refine your technique but also understand how far you can push yourself.”

Legend’s 24-hour deadline for Cricket Australia role

Ian Healy has been approached to join the Cricket Australia board and has 24 hours to make a decision which will be ratified at an Annual General Meeting later this month along with three other directorial positions.

Former NSW premier Mike Baird will also join the board courtesy of an audacious manoeuvre by that state to move its representative Richard Freudenstein to a vacant independent position and allow Baird to migrate to the head body.

Healy, the former wicket keeper, will replace Michael Kasprowicz who walked away from the board earlier this year in frustration after 11 years in the role. The former fast bowler still had 12 months to serve before facing re-election.

Healy has been approached to do the job but will do due diligence before accepting the role which would, along with the two other changes, be ratified at the AGM on October 29.

The 56-year-old played 119 Tests and 168 ODIs for Australia between 1988-99 and was so loved by his home state that Adam Gilchrist was booed on debut at the Gabba when he replaced Healy behind the stumps in the Test side.

Healy stayed close to the game as a commentator for Channel 9 before the last rights deal saw the broadcast move to Channel 7 and Fox Cricket.

Test legend Ian Healy. Picture: Steve PohlnerSource:News Corp Australia

He recently started a morning radio program in Brisbane with SEN Track. Fellow commentator and former teammate Mark Taylor was previously a board member but stood down in 2018 after an acrimonious period that included an ugly pay dispute and the cheating scandal.

It has been a tumultuous year for the board highlighted by the departure of chief executive Kevin Roberts in the middle of the year.

Kasprowicz’s departure 12 months before his term was due to expire added to the sense of disorder.

The board consists of six directors nominated by the six states and three independents. The state representatives are essentially independent but are nominated by their associations.

Baird will have to quit the NSW board to accept the role with Cricket Australia.

Cricket NSW has had a major win in convincing the board’s nominations committee to allow its representative Freudenstein to move into an independent seat vacated by Jacquie Hey which will allow the former NSW premier onto the board.

Hey, who many speculated would become the first female chair of cricket is the chair at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and indicated earlier this year she would be leaving.

Warner gets involved in fiery finish

IPL: Hyderabad captain David Warner was in the thick of the action as tensions threatened to boil over, following their tight loss to the Rajasthan Royals.

It was understood Dr Vanessa Guthrie was being groomed by Western Australia to move from its board to CA’s but she will miss out which means the board has only two women and is short of its target of 40 per cent female representation which it has resolved to reach in 2022.

Highly respected former player and commentator Mel Jones is on the board as a Victorian representative while Michelle Tredenick is an independent director.

Tasmanian director Paul Green is also due for re-election at the AGM but has been nominated by his state to continue in the role.

NSW’s ability to get two of its people in place comes after a period of hostility between the organisation and head office.

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The Blues were one the biggest critics of Roberts and the relationship with chairman Earl Eddings, whose position comes up for re-election in 12 months, has been strained.

John Knox, chairman of Cricket NSW, has a reputation as a power player in the game and has kept directors nervous ever since he took it on himself to call chairman David Peever in November 2018 and tell him he had lost support.

Peever resigned that day after a short fight.

Head office was paranoid the former Credit Suisse chief executive had eyes on the role of chairman of Cricket Australia but those fears were eased significantly when he recently accepted a major job as chair of Ares SSG management.

Originally published asSurging stocks suddenly give Aussies plenty to dream on

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