Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth
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Allrounder Mitchell Marsh will return from a three-month injury layoff as a specialist batter ahead of Australia's ODI series in India.
Having not played since the ODI series against England last November, the 31-year-old Marsh was named in Australia's 16-man squad on Thursday for the three-match series starting on March 17 in Mumbai.
Marsh has recovered from keyhole surgery on his left ankle having battled the injury throughout his career. He missed the entire BBL season but will make his comeback for Western Australia against Tasmania in the 50-over Marsh Cup on Sunday. He is expected to also play in the Marsh Cup final on March 8 before travelling to India in a series deemed as important preparation ahead of the World Cup later in the year.
"It's been a solid three months of rehab, thoroughly planned out," Marsh told reporters in Hobart. "I've had no setbacks and looking forward to getting back into it now."
Marsh, however, is not quite ready to return to bowling. "I haven't started bowling, will progress that over the next few weeks," he said. "I'm confident to play as a [specialist] batsman. For now, it's a bit of a luxury to come back as a batsman and we'll see how the bowling goes. But I've done the work, the rehab has gone to plan and I am ready to go."
When he is fit and firing, Marsh is an important cog in Australia's white-ball teams marked by his powerful batting and accurate seam bowling. He has also been bandied around as a potential T20I captain for Australia after the recent retirement of Aaron Finch.
Marsh's repaired ankle is hoped to help prolong his all-round game across formats as he eyes ending a near four-year drought in Test cricket.
"All formats are on the cards for me," said Marsh, who played 32 Tests between 2014 and 2019. "I have a lot of cricket left in my body. I always loved being an allrounder, which allows me to be in the game at all times. I'll continue to be an allrounder as long as I can.
"It [surgery] wasn't a decision made lightly, especially how much I love playing for Perth Scorchers. For my career, long-term, and with the Ashes - which I'm hoping to be part of the squad - and the World Cup this year, I wanted to make sure I had a lot of cricket under my belt."
Marsh missed Scorchers' epic BBL title defence although he did memorably celebrate their pulsating victory in the final against Brisbane Heat, as he ran onto Optus Stadium along with his fellow jubilant team-mates moments after batter Nick Hobson hit the winning runs.
"If you saw the way I ran out on the ground when they won, I felt like I played," Marsh said. "That's the culture we bred, we want to produce Australian cricketers. If they [Western Australia] make the Shield final, I'll be watching again but I'll be cheering just as loud."
Having watched aghast at Australia's Test woes on spinning Indian pitches, Marsh is predicting different conditions for the ODI series.
"Wickets there for ODIs are fairly flat and high-scoring affairs," he said. "I would be surprised if we get anything different. The guys will be well prepared, so they'll be raring to go."