Shaun Marsh Dropped As In-Form Usman Khawaja Returns For Boxing Day Test
A few months ago dropping Shaun Marsh would have been par for the course.
But after leading Australia to a series victory over New Zealand and a swashbuckling 182 in Hobart against West Indies, the perennial yo-yo batsman could consider himself unlucky to be watching the Boxing Day Test from the stands.
Marsh was axed to make way for the return of Usman Khawaja, who has recovered from injury.
Khawaja played himself into the side on a fixed basis with a pair of hundreds earlier in the summer before he was struck down with an injury to his left hamstring.
The 29-year-old left hander then demonstrated he was more than ready to resume his Test career by clubbing an unbeaten 109 against the Melbourne stars in their Big Bash match this week, leaving Test captain Steve Smith and the selectors with a difficult decision to make.
"We're always talking about what is coming up as well. There were a lot of conversations around it," Smith said at a press conference.
"Shaun is obviously extremely unlucky to miss out after scoring a brilliant 189 (sic) in the past Test match and 49 under a bit of pressure in the Test before that.
"There were lots of talks about it, but they just believe that's the best way to go going forward."
Despite Marsh's recent run of form, he has struggled to force himself to the Test side on a consistent basis, scoring just three hundreds at an average of 37.72 from 30 starts in 17 Test matches.
Dropping Marsh meant that opener Joe Burns kept his place alongside vice-captain David Warner as Smith resisted the temptation to break up their partnership and play Khawaja out of position.
Khawaja will bat at Number 3 -- where has an opportunity to play for many years to come -- and Smith will drop to #4.