Marsh replaces Bailey in Test squad for tour of South Africa

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“We all know that when Shaun plays at his best, he’s a very good player”

Australia batsman George Bailey has been axed from the Test squad for the national team’s upcoming tour of South Africa, which gets underway on February 5.

Bailey, who played in all five Tests during the recently concluded Ashes series, will be replaced by Shaun Marsh.

Bailey was axed due to his mediocre performance against England as he finished with 183 runs at an average of 26.14.

National selector John Inverarity defended his decision to drop Bailey, stating that the 31-year-old would struggle against South Africa’s pace trio of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel.

“I think George’s contribution to the Ashes victory was very significant,” Inverarity said. “He played an integral role there. It was a wonderful Ashes series and the 11 players knitted together really well and they were a very convincing unit. But going to South Africa, we think George is less suited to their attack and we’ve left him out and bolstered the batting with Alex Doolan and Shaun Marsh.

“[Doolan] has been on the radar for quite some time. We had him on standby in the fifth Test in Sydney and he’s now come into the squad of 15. Those of us who have seen us play … he looks a very good player – good technique, time, he plays pace bowling well – so we’re hoping that he’ll really flourish in this environment.”

Doolan, 28, will be the only uncapped player in Australia’s Test side.

Meanwhile, despite saying that he was “really inconsistent this year” and that there were “a lot of guys ahead of me” in terms of playing Test cricket for Australia, Marsh was included in the Test squad, even though he has only managed to score 248 runs at an average of 31 in this year’s Sheffield Shield season.

“He’s in a good space at the moment,” Inverarity said. “He’s playing well. We all know that when Shaun plays at his best, he’s a very good player. It seems to us that he’s in that space at the moment…That first Test match that he played in Cape Town, when Australia were eventually bowled out for a very small total. In the first innings, Michael Clarke made a century and Shaun made 44 and played exceptionally well against that attack.”

Inverarity added that pace bowler James Pattinson, who recently recovered from a back injury, will play a vital role throughout the tour, especially since South Africa is renowned for its pace-friendly pitches.

“He’s been making very good progress during the last six weeks,” Inverarity said. “Last night I thought he showed some very good signs and we’ve still got three or four weeks to go. He’s on the upward curve and at his best he’s a very good bowler.”

Australia Test squad Michael Clarke (capt), Brad Haddin (vice-capt), Jackson Bird, Alex Doolan, James Faulkner, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, David Warner, Shane Watson

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