Hazlewood backs 'crucial' Marsh

Australia paceman Josh Hazlewood labelled Mitchell Marsh as "crucial" to his team's bowling attack as the all-rounder's position is questioned.

Marsh could be dropped if Australia opt to play six specialist batsmen in the second Test against South Africa starting Saturday in Hobart.

But Hazlewood hailed the 25-year-old, who averages 23.18 with the bat and 37.27 with the ball in Tests.

"He's crucial for our bowling attack I think and brings a nice balance for us," he told a news conference on Thursday.

"I guess we can go in a bit shorter spells maybe, especially Starcy [Mitchell Starc], and become a bit more threatening.

"He's brilliant for our attack I think."

Hazlewood also defended captain Steve Smith, who was questioned by South Africa great Graeme Smith.

The speedster said he had no concerns over Steve Smith's leadership.

"I've obviously played a lot with Smithy, growing up as well through the junior ranks," Hazlewood said.

"He's always been a great leader in any side he's been a part of and here's no different.

"He leads from the front, his batting while he's been captain has been unbelievable and he's great out in the field, communicates really well with the bowlers and he's just a great leader out in the field and in general and around training."

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