Australia coach Justin Langer suggests Mitchell Marsh will play the Boxing Day Test
Christmas wishing: Justin Langer has plenty on his mind at the MCG. © AFP

Australia’s coach Justin Langer has termed Mitchell Marsh an “attractive commodity” as the home team mulls playing the allrounder ahead of Peter Handscomb, who has scores of 34, 14, 7 and 13 in the series, in the Boxing Day Test against India this week.

The much-scrutinised Melbourne Cricket Ground surface has been a difficult place for bowlers in recent months, but wore a green tinge on Monday to give Langer the chance to consider March as the seam-bowling allrounder and his ability to play spin.

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“In a perfectly balanced side, you’ve got someone who can bowl some overs,” said Langer on Monday. “And Mitch becomes an attractive commodity on a wicket (that) unlike Adelaide and Perth … although there’s a bit of moisture in it, we also know the history of it. Our fast bowlers have been lucky, we’ve bowled less overs than India’s bowlers at the moment, particularly (Jasprit) Bumrah, and that’s an important part of the series. The more we can look after the guys, the better.”

Marsh lost his place in Australia’s XI for the first two Tests against India on account of his inconsistency. In 30 Tests, Marsh averages 26.08 with the bat and 42.45 with the ball. He managed scores of 12, 0, 13 and 5 against Pakistan in the UAE and took two wickets.

With warm conditions expected in Melbourne this week, the need to give Australia’s three fast bowlers adequate rest at the MCG and have a player capable of playing spin is at the front of Langer’s plans.

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“Pete’s a very good player of spin bowling … and Mitch is a pretty good player of spin bowling too,” he said. “We’ll weigh up all those things, and they’re the hard decisions. All those factors, trust me, we think about it.

“It’s a bit sad, really; I’m not thinking about what Christmas present I’m going to give to my kids, I’m thinking about who plays spin better, whether we’ll play the extra bowler, how many overs have the fast bowlers bowled. It’s sad.”