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Selectors set to face Shaun Marsh dilemma

AAP logoAAP 14/12/2016 Rob Forsaith

There is plenty at stake for Australia at the Gabba this week, especially the three batsmen recently called into the XI.

Nic Maddinson, Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb will all be desperate for runs in Australia's day-night Test against Pakistan that starts on Thursday.

Maddinson, Renshaw and Handscomb all made Test debuts against South Africa in Adelaide, where national selectors opted for five changes following shambolic losses in Perth and Hobart.

The trio are expected to be given time to prosper, but the clock is ticking as Shaun Marsh continues to press towards a Boxing Day Test recall.

"I certainly think Shaun will come into contention for Boxing Day, assuming he gets through some cricket," skipper Steve Smith said at the Gabba on Wednesday.

"We're going to have to see how this game goes and how everything pans out there."

Marsh is recovering from a broken finger but expected to be passed fit before Perth's season-opening Big Bash League game, against Adelaide on December 23.

The veteran is expected to be part of Australia's plans for a four-Test tour of India in February.

If so, the West Australian is likely to be rushed back into the XI at the MCG despite having spent limited time at the crease since hurting his finger in the first Test against South Africa.

Justin Langer, who is Western Australia's coach and widely tipped to be Darren Lehmann's successor, expected that would transpire.

"The selectors, over many years, have shown great consistency," Langer told PerthNow.

"Usually if you go out with injury and you've been playing well, you usually come straight back in.

"I hope that's the case with Shaun. I know Trevor Hohns in the past, for many years, has been very consistent on that.

"I'd be surprised if he's not this time as well."

Langer tipped Marsh, who opened in his past two Tests, would return to the middle order.

That would leave Maddinson at most risk of being squeezed out of the XI.

The Sheffield Shield's hiatus means Marsh will only have Twenty20 cricket to prove his form and fitness before Boxing Day.

Is far from ideal but not unprecedented.

Usman Khawaja was recalled for last year's Boxing Day Test, at the expense of Marsh, after returning from a hamstring injury and scoring a T20 ton for Sydney Thunder.

"He's only got BBL to play. If he plays that and gets through then he'll be available for selection," Lehmann last week said of Marsh.

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