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Todd Murphy clue comes to light amid calls for Aussie change in fifth Ashes Test

After being controversially dropped for the fourth Test, the pitch at The Oval looks to be in off-spinner Todd Murphy's favour.

Todd Murphy is well and truly in the frame to be recalled for the fifth Ashes Test, after being dropped for the fourth at Old Trafford. Pictures: Getty Images/Bharat Sundaresan/Twitter
Todd Murphy is well and truly in the frame to be recalled for the fifth Ashes Test, after being dropped for the fourth at Old Trafford. Pictures: Getty Images/Bharat Sundaresan/Twitter

Todd Murphy looks set to return to the Australian side for the fifth Ashes Test, after he was controversially left out of the XI for the drawn fourth Test at Old Trafford. While the likes of Mitchell Starc and Mitch Marsh appear increasingly likely to overcome injury concerns and bowl in the Ashes finale, Murphy is firming as a likely selection for the typically spin-friendly wicket at The Oval.

Australia raised eyebrows when Murphy was overlooked at Old Trafford, however the sight of him batting in the nets has led many to believe he will make a comeback. Aussie skipper Pat Cummins has also hinted at Murphy's return, alluding to the injured Nathan Lyon's favourable record at The Oval.

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Marsh was forced from the field in the fourth Test and didn't bowl due to soreness, while Starc had picked up a shoulder complaint following heavy falls in the field. Both appear to have recovered however, while the Aussies also have Scott Boland in reserve alongside Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

Cummins was optimistic about Starc and Marsh's fitness on Thursday, as the Aussies look to secure their first series win on English soil since 2001. While noting Lyon's record at The Oval, Cummins was still non-committal about Murphy's chances of playing.

“Potentially. Nath Lyon’s got a really good record here," he said. "So I think that’ll be part of the conversations.”

Australia's decision to overlook Murphy didn't have any major ramifications, given just 30 overs were bowled over the final two days of the Test. However the additional strain placed on the visitors' pace attack was not insignificant, given the heavy schedule the side has played over the past six months.

If Murphy comes in, the pressure could be on Cameron Green to hold his spot after a difficult Ashes series for the allrounder so far. Green has taken five wickets at 47 for the series, and has not looked overly comfortable with the bat.

Cricket writer Bharat Sundaresan posted photos of Murphy batting in the nets on social media, adding he believed it was 'very likely' that he would come back into the side. Cummins said The Oval pitch looked to bear similarities to the one Australia defeated India on prior to the Ashes in the World Championship final.

"Maybe not quite as firm … little bit of grass. Not heaps. Looks like a pretty good wicket, I reckon," he said.

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Hazlewood has not played back-to-back Tests on a short turnaround for two-and-a-half years, but is confident of being able to feature at The Oval. Michael Neser, who was brought into the squad on the back of several standout performances in the County Championship, has already been ruled out as an option - an 'unlucky' situation, Cummins has admitted.

Former captain Tim Paine said on Monday he would bring Murphy into the side, while also calling for Boland's return despite the Victorian having taken just two wickets at an average of 115 in this series. It was a remarkable fall from grace after Boland's barnstorming start for the Aussies over summer, as well as his string performance in the earlier World Test Championship victory at The Oval.

Scott Boland.
Tim Paine has called for Scott Boland to return to the Australian side at The Oval, following his standout performance at the same venue in the World Test Championship final. (Photo by Stu Forster/2023 Getty Images) (2023 Getty Images)

"Wickets in England, as they wear, the spinners come into it. Hopefully Murphy comes back in," Paine told SEN.

"And I would be having a good look at Starc or Hazlewood for Scott Boland if the wicket is like it was for the World Test Championship final against India (at The Oval in June). Scotty Boland bowled amazing. It was a bit up and down and a bit sideways, so I would certainly be looking to bring him in."

With AAP

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