Mitch Marsh, Steve O’Keefe To Debut Against Pakistan

All-rounder Mitch Marsh and spinner Steve O’Keefe will become Australia‘s 438th and 439th Test players when they debut against Pakistan in Dubai on Wednesday.

Both players were presented with the Baggy Green in a small pre-match ceremony on Wednesday morning.

The 23-year-old Marsh underwhelmed with scores of 35 and a duck in Australia’s clash with Pakistan A last week, but will join the No.2 ranked Aussies following comments by Michael Clarke declaring the youngster as a future captain of the national team.

“I believe Mitchell Marsh can be a future captain of Australia,” Clarke wrote in his Sunday New Corp column. “That might sound like a big call for a bloke who only turned 23 on Monday and has yet to play a Test match. But I have toured with him quite a few times now and continue to be impressed with his talent, knowledge and game awareness.”

Clarke’s gushing praise of Marsh also provided insight into his natural leadership skills.

“His cricketing maturity is at least five years ahead of the date of birth printed on his passport,” Clarke continued. “When he sets fields, you can see that he is thinking not from the bowler’s perspective, but the batsman’s.”

“He is assessing conditions, the batsman’s strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities to exploit the latter. And when he is batting, he is not one of those guys running around without a plan. He is thinking about how to construct an innings. I also love how much he cares about the team.”

O’Keefe will become the 13th spinner to lineup for the Aussies since Shane Warne retired in 2007, and will be looking to provide more success than the inconsistent impact Australia’s collection of spinners have produced since.

The Sheffield Shield leading wicket-taker will pair with regular Nathan Lyon as the duo look to take advantage of the spin-friendly Dubai pitch in the Wednesday’s opener. But the newly formed partnership won’t be the only ones looking for an advantage in that department.

“Spin will be the order of the day, for me at least,” Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said on Tuesday.

“You look at history in Dubai and the wicket’s always spun. The groundsman prepared the pitch, it’s our home ground, we want to make the most of it.”

Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images