Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Australia have included batsman Shaun Marsh in the squad for the first Test against India, which will get underway on December 9 in Adelaide.
Marsh will replace captain Michael Clarke if he fails to sufficiently recover from a hamstring injury he suffered during the recent ODI series against South Africa.
Clarke has been undergoing a rehabilitation programme since he sustained the injury, but he has not stuck to his routine over the past week due to the tragic death of his team-mate and friend Phillip Hughes.
Marsh, who recently recovered from elbow surgery, has been excelling with the bat in this year’s Sheffield Shield. In the second game of the season, he scored 111 for Western Australia against Queensland at the WACA before going on to make 134 against Victoria at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
However, despite Marsh’s inclusion, head coach Darren Lehmann made it clear that he would fully understand if any player decided to opt out of playing in the first Test.
“I was there 10 years ago when my close friend David Hookes was killed in a tragic incident,” Lehmann wrote in a column in the Australian on Thursday. “It’s something I think about every day of my life. Phillip’s death has revived a lot of memories of that time. Both were freakish incidents. I guess the Hookes family have had a hard week, too.
“Hookesy’s death brought it home to me that life has to be joyful and sport the same. We are only playing a game after all. Our existence is too fragile and lifespan too short to worry about stuff that doesn’t matter. I think I played cricket about seven or 10 days after Hookesy died. It was something I felt I had to do and it was something I wanted to do, but that was me.
“We hope the boys can find the inner strength to play the game in the way Phillip would have wanted in Adelaide next week and that they can honour what he had done. We want to hold his values close to our heart and that means playing cricket the way he did, with a love of the game and a smile.
“It’s going to be hard and if somebody is struggling Michael and I understand. There is no pressure on them. We will look after them and we will help them get back to the place where they can play. We left a bit of heart in Macksville yesterday.”