Smith memories stoke Mitchell Marsh's fire

Mitchell Marsh and Steven Smith walk back after an exhausting day Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Memories of batting with the banned former captain Steven Smith during last summer's Ashes will be at the forefront of Mitchell Marsh's mind. This as he seeks to quieten a vociferous lobby of critics while making the No. 6 berth and the Australian vice-captaincy his own during the Test series against India.

It's been a little less than a year since Marsh was recalled to the Australian Test side for the third Test of the home bout with England in Perth. He joined with Smith for a punishing stand worth 301 that not only delivered the allrounder his first Test hundred, but also effectively sealed the return of the Ashes.

Another century at the SCG shored up Marsh's spot further, but after he followed it up with a key 96 during Australia's victory over South Africa in Durban, his and the team's fortunes have slipped considerably either side of the Newlands ball tampering scandal. Smith is suspended from Australian duty until April next year, but Marsh has revisited his partnership with the ex-captain numerous times by way of positive reinforcement.

"I constantly go back to that and watch my innings," Marsh said in Adelaide. "I think it's important for me to go back to that, I feel like I was batting really well last summer, I feel like I'm batting really well at the moment. It's always nice to be back playing in Australia, I think we play extremely well here, the record shows that.

"Smudger (Smith) became one of my best mates in cricket over the last couple of years. We certainly like batting together. He doesn't give you much out in the middle. We just had that connection and some great partnerships I'll always remember the rest of my life. I feel very lucky to have done that. Hopefully we've got a few more in us in the future.

"When you're batting at the other end with Steve Smith it takes your mind off the fact you're out there. You can switch off and watch him do his work - pretty awesome to watch. We both don't really communicate much out in the middle. Keep going, watch the ball, swing hard. That's about it. It sounds stupid but that's really all it is when you're batting together."

Australia appear highly likely to go into the first Test with a batting order of Marcus Harris, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh, leaving Peter Handscomb the odd batsman out. Plenty of questions have been raised about Mitchell Marsh's place in the team following an horrific tour of the UAE, but his productivity last summer at home, his value-add as a bowler, and also his status as vice-captain to Tim Paine, alongside Josh Hazlewood, appear set to see him retained.

"After the UAE, there's no doubt that there's a few questions marks over me, so I'm just really pumped if I'm selected to get out there and play in front of Australian crowds again, its a great time of year. I am feeling good," Marsh said. "I think No. 6 is a great position to bat especially if you've bowled a few overs you always get a bit of time to have a rest. I'm doing my best to make the No. 6 position my own in this team, so that's all I can do.

"I'm fully fit, rearing to go, got some good overs under my belt the last couple of weeks for Western Australia. I'm feeling great. My goal for this summer is to start chipping in with the ball and get a few more wickets for the team. I love coming on in the graveyard shift, 70 to 80 overs when the ball's doing nothing and trying to sneak in a wicket. I really want to take my bowling to the next level in this team. That's about taking your opportunity when you get it."

Ticket sales for the series have been middling at best. It hasn't helped that local train services won't run over days three and four of the Adelaide Test. In Perth, a lack of demand has led to the decision to close off the shaded top tier of the new stadium. Asked whether the team felt trepidation about how they would be received by home crowds in their first Test in Australia since Newlands, Marsh was a picture of optimism.

"It's been a big build up to this Test match but there's a great feeling around this group," he said. "We've all trained exceptionally well and prepared the best we possibly can. That's all we can do, now it's about going out there and hopefully putting it together as a batting unit. but we all feel really good at the moment.

"We're pumped to get back here and play in front of our home crowds. We want to play an exciting brand of cricket that people want to come and watch. We know there's going to be a lot of Indian fans here too, so that's always exciting to play in front of them. But we're just pumped to get back playing in front of our fans."