Australian cricketers need to be more 'selfish' says Marsh

ROD Marsh, Australia's chairman of selectors, has launched a scathing attack on the nation's batsmen and called on them to be more ''selfish''.

The tourists capitulated to England's pace bowlers at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge, losing the Ashes with a game to spare.

Ahead of tomorrow's tour match in Northampton Marsh, the combative former wicketkeeper and a veteran of many hard-edged Ashes battles, said: ''If you have a look at our first-innings batting it's been deplorable. It's all you can say. Guys have let themselves down.

''We were walloped and it hurts like hell - it hurts me like hell. We [selectors] have got to take some blame. But how the hell do you see that?

"How do you see some of the best batsmen in the world make no runs in the first innings of four Test matches, basically? It just staggered me."

FIRST BLOW: Josh Hazlewood celebrates his debut Ashes wicket – the first of the series – as Adam Lyth walks off dejected at Cardiff.
FIRST BLOW: Josh Hazlewood celebrates his debut Ashes wicket – the first of the series – as Adam Lyth walks off dejected at Cardiff. Gareth Copleygetty IMAGES

Marsh demanded a change of attitude, saying it was possible to be ''quite selfish as a batsman and still be a hell of a good team person''.

''Being selfish as a batsman seems to me to be not wanting to get out and wanting to occupy the crease longer than anyone else in your team, and those things count in Test match cricket,'' he said.

''They've got to say, 'Righto, no one's getting me out and I don't care if it takes me all day to make a hundred'. You're allowed to bat all day. I think our longest partnership in that [Trent Bridge] game was something like 18 overs. That's appalling in a Test match, I don't care what [pitch] you're playing on.''

Marsh also waded into the debate about the presence of the players' families causing a distraction on the tour. ''Well, what do you want? Do you want divorces? Do you want players unhappy?'' he asked.

''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.''

Australia's coach, Darren Lehmann, also defended the decision to allow partners and children to travel with the squad, saying: ''Some of the guys in our squad have schedules that have meant they've been at home for a total of three or four days since the Boxing Day Test last December - less than a week in more than seven months.''

Lehmann accepted that his team's failings were their own responsibility, and said he was sorry: ''Not only do we want to be accountable for our efforts, but on behalf of our team I want to apologise for the manner in which we have lost.''

The keeper Brad Haddin, who was dropped after the first Test in Cardiff, was yesterday granted an early release from the tour to return to Australia for personal reasons.

The selectors have called up six fresh faces for the one-day series which follows next week's final Test at The Oval.

Ashton Agar, the left-arm spinner who scored a remarkable 98 on debut in the Trent Bridge Test four years ago, comes into the one-day fold for the first time along with batsman Joe Burns and all-rounder Marcus Stoinis.

Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood are rested, with James Pattinson and Nathan Coulter-Nile replacing them, while keeper Matthew Wade returns.

Notable absentees from the World Cup-winning side include Aaron Finch, who has a broken foot, and James Faulkner, who is banned after a drink-driving incident.

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