Marsh could be sent back to Shield
Shaun Marsh may need time away from the spotlight in the Sheffield Shield to rediscover his game after a dire series against India, his captain Michael Clarke has conceded.
In a 4-0 pounding of India, Marsh's 17 runs in six innings has stood out as the most troubling element of Australia's progress, casting significant doubt on the role Clarke had envisioned for him as the strong, silent type to replace Ricky Ponting at No. 3.
While Marsh has been named in the Twenty20 squad to face India in two matches in Melbourne and Sydney from Wednesday, the national selectors are yet to decide whether he should be included in the team for the triangular ODI series. Clarke left open the possibility that some first-class matches for Western Australia would be an option for the panel.
"It is a tough question. To be honest I don't know the answer. I'm sure Shaun would like some more runs," Clarke said. "His form in one-day cricket and the shorter form has been outstanding for a good period of time whether for WA or Australia or Perth Scorchers. I have always loved the way Shaun has played. He is wonderful talent. I do see him as a big part of the Australian team in all three formats but he certainly needs to keep making runs.
"If he gets the opportunity to play for Australia in the shorter form or if he goes back to WA he just has to keep working hard and puts some runs on the board. He needs to spend time in the middle to build his confidence back up. I am confident he will perform again for Australia."
Apart from Marsh, the opening partnership of David Warner and Ed Cowan shone at times during the four Tests, but also showed plenty of room for improvement, notably against spin in Adelaide. Clarke said the team's success made it possible to keep the current group together for the time being, the next Test assignment a three-match series in the West Indies in April.
"When you're winning it helps keep a team together," Clarke said. "Individually Shaun and Eddie and probably David would have liked a few more runs. There's swings and roundabouts. When you're playing well you need to cash in.
"There's going to come a time when you're not making runs. Ricky Ponting is a great example of that. Now we're saying he's batting as good as he's ever batted. When you're not performing you need to hang in there. I'm confident they can turn it around."
Ponting's strong form, alongside that of Michael Hussey, has encouraged the selectors to look at retaining both for some considerable time, perhaps as far as the 2013 Ashes in England. However Clarke indicated that further discussions of their futures lay ahead, alongside his own place at No. 5.
"That is probably something I have to speak to the selectors and the coach and a couple of the senior players about I guess. We need to do whatever is best for the team," Clarke said. "If that means I stay at five for the rest of my career, then I stay at five. If I have to move, then I move.
"And everybody is the same in the team to be honest. My goal is to pick the best XI for every game we play to help us win that game of cricket, whether that be one-day cricket or Test cricket and whatever that XI is, I have no problems in selecting that if we think it's going to help us win the game.
"So it's not about the individual player, it's about getting an XI we think can win and players doping their job and the same with the batting order, if it means I have to move from number five up the order or go down - whatever it takes to help us win.
"I really like the fact we have a good mix of youth and experience, I think that is really important in the team success throughout the last few months."
At the end of his initial run of 11 Tests as captain, Clarke said he had grown comfortable with his dual role as leader and selector, and said the level of communication between the players and the national panel had been particularly helpful in establishing a team comfortable in its own skin.
"I think it has been good to be able to voice my opinion as part of the selection panel," Clarke said. "You are one of five though, so the selectors, if they disagree, I have only got my one vote. But it is pleasing, more than being a selector, the communication and the relationship with the selectors, captain-coach, has been very pleasing for me.
"I have enjoyed the challenges, I have enjoyed the communication with the selectors and being able to voice my opinion."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here