McGrath tips Harris to miss first Test

Former Aussie quick Glenn McGrath has predicted Ryan Harris and Mitch Marsh will miss out on the team to take on England in the opening Ashes Test in Cardiff.

McGrath expects the pace attack in Wales will consist of Mitchell Johnson, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc.

He’s tipping Shane Watson to get the nod over fellow allrounder Marsh.

“I’d be keen to play both Starc and Hazlewood in the first Test and you’ve got to play Mitchell Johnson,” McGrath told reporters in London on Monday.

Leaving out Harris would be tough given he was a “quality player” but McGrath suggested he could be saved for the second Test at Lord’s.

“Ryan Harris hasn’t played a great deal of cricket and they’ll probably want to manage him throughout the series,” the 45-year-old said.

“So it might work out, there’s always one guy fresh going into a Test.”

The first Test starting on July 8 would be crucial for Johnson after an “incredible” home Ashes series that left England’s players with “a lot of scars”, McGrath said.

“If Mitchell Johnson can get off to a good start here it will just reopen them and he will just power through.”

On the flip side, McGrath said if England are to be competitive, quicks Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad will also need to hit their straps early.

Hazlewood is often compared to McGrath and on Monday the veteran backed the 24-year-old to excel in English conditions.

“I loved playing over here and loved playing with the Dukes cricket ball,” McGrath said.

“I averaged two wickets a Test more with a Dukes ball.

“(So) I think he (Hazlewood) will enjoy that – he is the type of bowler that hits a deck and can swing the ball a bit.

“You’ve got to hit the seam in England to be effective, and he does.”

McGrath said Hazlewood was “big enough and tough enough” to handle the pressure of playing an Ashes series in the UK.

The ex-player, speaking at a Hardys of Australia wine tasting function in central London, also backed his mate Watson over Marsh.

“He (Watson) will get given the opportunity to start with and I want to see him go out there and perform – to really live up to the ability he has,” McGrath said.

“If he comes into the first Test and performs, then it’s his, if not then we’ll wait and see.”

McGrath, famous for predicting Australian clean sweeps at the Ashes, duly delivered on that front again.

“Considering Australia won 5-0 last time in Australia, I’m just continuing that, so my prediction is Australia will win 10-0 (on aggregate).”

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