‘Extraordinary’ teammate leaves Smith on the outer

Glenn Maxwell has given fellow all-rounder Mitchell Marsh a huge endorsement as speculation swirls as to whether he will beat gun batter Steve Smith to Australia's No.3 spot at the T20 World Cup.

After legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne revealed on Twitter that he wouldn't pick Smith in Australia's XI, opting for Marcus Stoinis at first drop and Marsh at No.6, Maxwell said he backed Marsh for "a massive tournament".

"I don't think I've seen anyone hit the ball better – ever," Maxwell said.

"We all gather around his net and just watch him hit the ball. It's been pretty extraordinary to watch him go about his business at the moment.

"I'd be really surprised if he didn't have a good tournament.

"His presence around the group, regardless of what he's doing, is second to none. He's the guy everyone wants in the team.

"He's flying at the moment."

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Marsh batted at No.3 and Smith at No.4 in Australia's first T20 World Cup warm-up match, with Marsh striking 24 runs from 15 balls against New Zealand and Smith 35 from 30.

But Maxwell was brilliant at No.4 for Royal Challengers Bangalore in this year's Indian Premier League, averaging 42.75 and striking at 144.1, so he's expected to win a spot in Australia's XI.

Whether the selectors find room for Marsh, Smith and Maxwell in the batting line-up remains to be seen.

https://twitter.com/ShaneWarne/status/1450043224958062593

Marsh thrived as Australia's first drop in July's T20 series against the West Indies, peeling off scores of 51, 54 and 75 and averaging 43.8.

While the Western Australian wasn't as effective in the T20 series against Bangladesh in August, he still twice registered 45 and an innings of 51, finishing with an average of 31.2.

On the contrary, Delhi Capitals coach Ricky Ponting selected Smith just twice after the resumption of this year's IPL, and the champion right-hander finished the tournament with a top score of 39 and an average of 25.33.

The T20 international averages of Marsh and Smith are just about identical, with Marsh averaging 28 from 30 games and Australia's former Test captain averaging 27.37 from 45 matches.

Maxwell expects top-order success to be more crucial than usual given the wickets being used in the UAE and Oman.

"It's not like, I suppose, other places around the world where you can cash in later on. I think it's about cashing in at the front end and then trying to hold off as long as possible," Maxwell said.

"I don't think it's going to be (scores in the) 220s and 230s that people have come to expect from small grounds like Sharjah (in the UAE).

"But if someone gets in from the powerplay and gets going anything can happen, because if you get used to conditions you can certainly make the most of them and dominate a team."

Australia will open their T20 World Cup campaign against South Africa on Saturday.

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