Recalled Marsh emerges from 'dark space'
Shaun Marsh has emerged from the "dark space" he inhabited during a nightmarish 2012 to be recalled to the Australian Twenty20 team following his storming Big Bash League.
Starting last year as the No. 3 batsman in the Test side, Marsh was dropped following a dire series against India. His stocks receded further when a poor start to this season with Western Australia was compounded by disciplinary trouble at the Champions League that had him dropped from the Perth Scorchers too.
But the steadying hand of the new WA and Scorchers coach Justin Langer played a part in Marsh regathering his confidence and discipline, and he will now turn out for the national team in Sydney and Melbourne against Sri Lanka after leading the run scorers in the BBL while showing the sort of clean, powerful stroke play that had first won him an international berth.
"It's been a pretty big turnaround," Marsh said in Perth. "A few months ago I wasn't even picked for WA and I was doubting myself and stuff like that. It's just great to play well for the Scorchers, get my name back up there, get the confidence back and I'm really looking forward to playing again and hopefully doing well.
"I was in a pretty dark space there for a few months. It certainly challenges you, but it's made me a stronger person within and it's made me a better person. I've worked really hard with Justin and [fitness trainer] Steve Smith, went away and did some boxing with a mate of mine, trained really hard and made sure I was doing the extra sessions.
"I knew things were going to turn around for me if I kept doing that, and it did. It was nice to contribute to the team again and help the boys win games of cricket."
At 29, Marsh remains a long way from a Test match recall, something he was happy to accept. "It's always a dream to play Test cricket and I've had a taste of it, so one day hopefully," he said. "But I've got to play well for WA, in Shield cricket I think I'm averaging about 10 this year so I want to get back to playing with the boys, get a few big hundreds and push my case. I think that's a long way off at the moment."
John Inverarity, the national selector, indicated that his panel was hopeful that Marsh would use his BBL resurgence as a "stepping stone".
"With Shaun we'll just take one step at a time," Inverarity said. "His form in the BBL has been absolutely compelling. He's batted brilliantly and we all know how well he can play when he's in a good space and he seems to be in a very good space at the moment.
"We've kept a pretty close eye on Shaun and he's in a very good place at the moment. His batting has just been wonderful. We hope this is a stepping stone for other forms."
Adam Voges, Ben Laughlin and James Faulkner were among others rewarded for their domestic efforts with a place in the squad to face Sri Lanka. There was no room for Shane Watson, who may now return from his calf strain via the Sheffield Shield with New South Wales, while Luke Pomersbach was also overlooked despite a BBL contribution every bit as compelling as that of Marsh.
The bowling attack will be led by Mitchell Starc and Ben Cutting, with Laughlin's variations finding a way back into favour after his strong showings for the Hobart Hurricanes. David Hussey, meanwhile, lost his place in the T20 team following only brief appearances for the side in last year's World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
Inverarity said Pomersbach and Ben Rohrer, both outstanding performers in the BBL for the Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Renegades respectively, had been very close to winning places in the team. "Ben Rohrer played brilliantly with the Melbourne Renegades and was in strong contention for inclusion, as was Luke Pomersbach," he said. "The NSP is pleased to see Luke playing so well and hope his good form continues."
As for Hussey, Inverarity stated that he had been left out for a younger player in Glenn Maxwell, as was the case for much of the World T20. "It was a toss-up in September at the World T20 and Glenn was preferred to David in all games but the semi-final at the end," Inverarity said. "When it's very close we always go for the younger player."
Australia Twenty20 squad: George Bailey (capt), Ben Cutting, Xavier Doherty, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Ben Laughlin, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Adam Voges, Matthew Wade, David Warner
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here