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Cricket Australia back chairman of selectors Rod Marsh but pressure growing

Cricket Australia are standing by chairman of selectors Rod Marsh as pressure mounts after a series of contentious calls that have left players uncertain about their futures.

The view from headquarters is that criticism of Marsh's performance is unfair given Australia's largely strong performances on his watch, but agitation is growing - and not just because of the national team's five consecutive defeats in the past fortnight.

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Marsh explains Australia's T20 World Cup squad

Australia's Twenty20 World Cup squad is defended by Chairman of Selectors Rod Marsh after there were nine changes from the recent India series.

Marsh is set to come under more scrutiny next week when Australia name their 15-man squad for the World T20 competition, the only major tournament that the national team has not won. Eyebrows will be raised if Australia buck the trend of picking three frontline slow bowlers for the tournament on the subcontinent.

Australia's planning for the tournament is well behind other nations, which is not surprising given the team only played one game in the format in 2015.

Selectors picked 19 players for the three-game series against India, who, in contrast, played the same XI throughout.

Fairfax Media understands the lack of clarity in some of Australia's recent selections has some players looking over their shoulders, with some unsure what direction selection is heading.

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Some are wondering if selectors remain committed to picking their best team available and how the policy fits in with medium- to long-term planning.

CA believe the criticism of Marsh, who is contracted until mid-2017, is uncalled for. Although Australia has surrendered the Ashes during Marsh's reign as chairman, they also won a World Cup and by the end of this month could be No.1 in the Test and ODI formats.

The tight scheduling at the end of the summer has not helped selectors either, forcing them to juggle preparations for the World T20 with the Test and ODI series in New Zealand, while the long injury list to Australia's best quicks has hobbled their attack.

While Australia's successful home summer spared Marsh much scrutiny, there was much discussion from cricket insiders about selection well before the bizarre snubbing of Usman Khawaja.

Khawaja is in the frame to make a belated return to the one-day international team for Saturday's game in Wellington.

But his omission from the T20 squad and the original ODI touring party to New Zealand has confused many. So too his omission from the first one-dayer, which deprived him of a first-class hit-out in preparation for the Tests - the initial reason given for leaving him out of the Chappell-Hadlee series.

The treatment of Khawaja is at odds with selector Mark Waugh's summation of him as batting better than West Indies great Brian Lara.

"It's a joke, it's a joke and the pressure should be mounting on Rod Marsh," former Test opener Michael Slater said on Sky Sports Radio on Thursday.

"There's no great planning when it comes to some selections and there is no great logic when they leave someone out like Khawaja. So Rod Marsh should be in the sights."

The call to pick youngster Cam Bancroft as wicketkeeper for the final T20 against India was last week questioned by Brad Haddin, who could not understand why selectors did not pick a specialist gloveman. Bancroft is an opening batsman by trade but kept wicket for Perth in the Big Bash League.

The Bancroft decision adds fuel to the perception held by some in Australian cricket that Marsh is favouring his native Western Australia in many line-ball calls.

Earlier in the summer Nathan Coulter-Nile was drafted into the Test squad despite not having played a first-class game all season, a move branded as "ridiculous" by Victorian coach David Saker. The Marsh brothers have also benefited though Shaun was dropped after making a huge century to accommodate for Khawaja in the Test series against the West Indies.

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