Incumbent opener Shaun Marsh says he’s ready to fight for his Ashes dream, with veteran duo Chris Rogers and Adam Voges in the box seat to oust him ahead of the series-opener in Cardiff.
Marsh knows three into two doesn’t go, and he is in a dogfight with Rogers and Voges as he scraps to emulate his father, Geoff Marsh, and play an Ashes series on English soil.
Results from the tour matches against Kent, starting on Thursday, and against Essex the following week, will likely decide who slots into Australia’s top six.
David Warner, Steve Smith and Michael Clarke are all certainties, while allrounder Shane Watson is favoured to retain his spot at No.6.
Of the contenders, Marsh appears to have the most work to do.
Voges looked to have cemented an Ashes gig with his important century on debut against the West Indies earlier this month which steered Australia from a precarious position into a match-winning one in the first Test.
Rogers has runs on the board, having topped Australia’s run-scorers across the back-to-back Ashes series in 2013 and 2014, and would be confident of being slotted back into an opening partnership alongside Warner.
“Chris is a really experienced player, he’s had a lot of success in the UK and he’s going to play a big part throughout this series,” Clarke said of Rogers.
The pair also have significant experience playing on English wickets having embarked on successful county careers.
But gifted 31-year-old left-hander Marsh isn’t giving up his spot without a fight.
“When you’re playing international cricket there’s pressure any game you play in, whether it’s tour games or Test matches,” he said.
“That’s what you expect. When we’re playing against Kent next week there’ll be pressure on not only me, but everyone.”
Marsh scored a magnificent 141 on debut against Sri Lanka in 2011 to announce himself on the world stage, but inconsistent form and injury troubles have hindered his development at Test level ever since.
He stepped in against the West Indies when Rogers withdrew on the eve of the first Test with concussion, having been struck in the head during a net session, but failed to crack 20 in his first three innings of the series.
An impressive 69 in the second innings of the second Test showed improvement, but Marsh lamented his inability to convert it into a big score – something he hopes to atone for in the tour matches.
“It was disappointing to get out on 69, I threw away 100 there. I was really disappointed in that,” he said.
“I felt like I was moving pretty well throughout both Test matches.
“I enjoyed getting out there with Davey with the challenges of opening the batting.”
When asked about what it would take to convince selectors to stick with him for the series-opening Test on July 8, Marsh joked “a few hundreds would be nice”.