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Australian chief selector Rodney Marsh defends presence of WAGs in Ashes tour party

Rodney Marsh defended the team's selection and blamed middle order failure for the Ashes debacle.

Rodney Marsh Australia Michael Clarke Shane Warne
Rodney Marsh speaks to Michael Clarke and Shane Warne ahead of the opening day of the fourth Ashes Test

Australia’s head of selectors Rodney Marsh has vehemently denied claims that the presence of WAGs (Wives and Girlfriends) had a role to play in their disastrous Ashes series defeat, NDTV reports. The former wicketkeeper added that imposing any sort of ban on players’ family will only worsen things and believes the team’s batting failure alone was at fault for the Ashes debacle.

England defeated Australia in the 4th Test in a little over two days of play as the hosts regained the Ashes with a 3-1 victory. The embarrassing defeat at the hands of its age-old rivals has sparked off rumours of team disharmony and allegations that differences of opinions between two of the WAGs had led to friction between the players. 

Another former Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy added fuel to the fire by suggesting that the present team members were distracted by the presence of their partners.

"Your mind needs to be completely focused on it. Cricket is a sport that requires complete concentration,” Healy said. “You need everything going for you and I'm not sure they're pushing for that hard enough."

Marsh, who is ironically Healy’s boyhood hero, however, thinks otherwise.

"Well, what do you want? Do you want divorces? Do you want players unhappy?" asked Marsh. “In this day and age, the scheduling is such that you can't play cricket unless you see your family. You're going to be less happy as a person and they all say it. All the players say it. You're going to be less happy if you don't see your family." 

Skipper Michael Clarke, who has announced that he will be retiring after the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval, and David Warner had also come in support of the view that WAGs should be allowed while on tour. 

Marsh blames middle order batsmen for Ashes failure 

Marsh was not mincing words when it came to describing the reasons for the series defeat against England and said that he was ‘staggered’ by the manner in which Australia’s middle order batting failed to rise to the occasion.  

“It just staggered me. If you have a look at our first innings batting it's been deplorable, it's all you can say," Marsh said, as reported by ESPNCricinfo. "Guys have let themselves down. How do you see some of the best batsmen in the world make no runs in the first innings of four Test matches?”

"Our blokes scored more runs than their top order, but our middle order scored no runs and that was the big differential - we just didn't score any runs in the middle. We were walloped and it hurts like hell - it hurts me like hell."

There have been suggestions that many of the Australian players selected in the tour were past their prime and on the wrong side of thirty, but Marsh defended the team selection.   

“If I had my time again, to sit down and choose the batsmen to come to England it would have been exactly the same. I just couldn't think of anyone else who could have done the job. We picked blokes with experience in these conditions, we picked blokes that we thought would get runs obviously,” Marsh said.

“You've got to be held accountable - fine, I agree with that. But I'm just racking my brain to try and think of who else we could have picked. If you blokes want to come up with some suggestions, I can probably explain why we didn't pick them. No selection panel can work harder than we worked, and we will continue to work. There's not much you can do about it really.” 

Marsh opens up on selection for Trent Bridge Test 

The selection of the final eleven for the fourth Ashes Test had raised eyebrows with Shaun Marsh surprisingly coming in for his brother Mitchell Marsh. It was also reported that the all-rounder was informed of the same just an hour before the match and there were also question marks about Peter Siddle’s non-inclusion. 

Marsh opened up on scenes in the dressing room leading up to the selection of the team.

"That's probably the hardest selection I've been involved in, that last Test match," he said, "because I thought there were three or four options, every one of which could have been fantastic and every one of which could have been poor. That was just the way it was. Had we won the toss we might not be even talking about it right now.”

"There was no way known I was going to make up my mind until I saw the pitch on the final morning. I'd consulted all the right people - friends that had played here, guys that I knew very, very well - and they wouldn't give me a bum steer. The message that I got was that if you can get through the first three hours it becomes a belter of a pitch to bat on - if the sun comes out.”

Australia were skittled out for 60 runs in their first innings under two hours of play that all but sealed their fate in the Test match. 

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