Mitchell Marsh loses Australia A spot
The allrounder Mitchell Marsh has missed out on being selected for Australia A because of his behaviour in South Africa over the past week. Marsh was one of several Perth Scorchers players who had a big night out in the lead-up to a must-win Champions League Twenty20 match and he and his brother Shaun were subsequently dropped from the Scorchers' final match of the tournament.
It has also cost Marsh the chance to play against South Africa in a three-day match in Sydney starting next Friday. The Australia A team will be captained by the Victoria allrounder Andrew McDonald, one of four players with Test experience in the side along with Phillip Hughes, Tim Paine and Steven Smith, and while there are plenty of allrounders in the 11-man team, Marsh is not one of them.
"Four or five days ago we had a squad of 15 that we were looking to mould and Mitch was in that," the national selector John Inverarity said. "What's happened in South Africa recently didn't help his cause there. It's up to the WACA to deal with that and they will deal with that appropriately. As soon as that has been dealt with and whatever sanctions they have in mind…when that's finished he'll be very much back on the radar.
"Mitch is a good lad but apparently there was alleged to be an indiscretion there. I'm sure we've all had indiscretions in our time. But he'll come back onto the radar. He's a very good cricketer, a very promising cricketer and a cricketer that Australia needs to develop."
When asked if Marsh's name was taken off the list of 15 specifically because of the events in South Africa, Inverarity said: "Yes, his name was taken off the list because of what's happened recently. Mitch is a lively 21-year-old and a very good cricketer. I feel really confident he will kick on as a young man and as a player. I'm sure he will."
Inverarity, a former Western Australia player, said the incident in South Africa, in which players were believed to be out on the town celebrating Marsh's 21st birthday, was a concern for the culture of cricket in the state.
"There are concerns there, the concerns are fairly widespread, yes," Inverarity said. "We want cricket to have a very healthy culture in all parts of Australia, and I think in WA there need to be some changes and they need to pull up their socks."
Two Western Australia players made the Australia A side, the fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile and the opener Liam Davis. Victoria's prolific opener Rob Quiney was also included, along with the Tasmania batsman Alex Doolan, who made 149 for the Tigers earlier this month against South Australia, followed by a fighting 95 in the ongoing match against Victoria at the MCG.
There was no place for Callum Ferguson, who impressed with a career-best 164 in this week's Sheffield Shield match for South Australia in Adelaide, nor for the Queensland batsman Usman Khawaja. Ferguson's century this week was his first major score in some time, after he averaged 32.40 in the Sheffield Shield last summer.
"We were delighted he made 160-odd the other day, which was terrific, the issue with Callum is consistency," Inverarity said. "We want him to do it again, and again and again. I think Phil Hughes really benefited by having an uninterrupted time at Worcester. He was there, he was settled, he made runs there, and we're looking for Callum staying with SA, batting at No. 4, batting under pressure and getting runs consistently."
There were plenty of allrounders picked in the 11-man group, including Smith, Moises Henriques and Glenn Maxwell. The new ball will be shared by Coulter-Nile and John Hastings, while other fast men including Jackson Bird and Luke Butterworth were overlooked.
The team will play the South Africans in Sydney ahead of the first Test, although the Australia A players cannot force their way into the Test side with performances in this match, for the Test squad will be announced on Monday.
"The national selection panel does not intend, at the moment, to include any of the players in this Australia A team in the squad for the first Test," Inverarity said. "Phillip Hughes, Rob Quiney, Liam Davis and Alex Doolan are four top-order batsmen who have played well recently and will have an opportunity to impress against the formidable South African pace attack.
"Rob Quiney has been very close to receiving recognition for some time and his sound technique and equable temperament should serve him well as an opener. Phillip Hughes has been in pleasing form and showing the benefits of his four month uninterrupted spell with Worcestershire and settling in well with his new team, South Australia.
"Andrew McDonald, Steve Smith, Moises Henriques and Alex Doolan have been in sparkling form recently. Following the unfortunate shoulder injury to Jon Holland, Glenn Maxwell has been given the responsibility of being the team's sole spinner. The NSP is very keen for him to develop as a genuine allrounder.
"John Hastings has made a splendid return from injury, as has Tim Paine, and John will share the new ball with Nathan Coulter-Nile, who impressed with Australia A in England a few months ago, as did Davis. They will be supported by the medium pace of McDonald and Henriques."
Australia A squad Phillip Hughes, Rob Quiney, Liam Davis, Alex Doolan, Andrew McDonald (capt), Tim Paine (wk), Steven Smith, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, John Hastings, Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here