Patient Marshall waits for his chance
Marshall Ayub is waiting patiently to grab his first opportunity in international cricket but the heavy downpour in Chittagong meant that his only chance of getting some practice before his likely Test debut appeared slim. Rather than having an innings under his belt, he has to content with thinking about is last century and plan his indoor nets using advice from the man who's position he could be taking.
That last century was his sixth since February 2012 and it came in a three-day practice match in Khulna played among Bangladesh's 30-man preliminary squad for the New Zealand series in early September. It came from No. 3, a position for which Bangladesh are desperate to find a new batsman, and more importantly, it caught coach Shane Jurgensen's eye.
Habibul Bashar, Bangladesh's best-ever No. 3 and coincidentally the selector present at the game, said at the time that it will be an innings to talk about when they select the first Test squad.
"The 156 in Khulna got me back into reckoning [for the Bangladesh side]," Marshall told ESPNcricinfo. "I had an ordinary tour of England for Bangladesh A (in August this year). I thought I may have lost out on the progress I had made before this tour. I had scored some runs in the last domestic season but I just had to score in my first innings back from England."
He returned from England with 139 runs from eight one-day innings, with a highest score of 39 against Hampshire. It was a setback for Marshall, after he had scored 1,069 first-class runs with four centuries in the 2012-13 season. That welcome run of form came after a few average seasons Marshall had to endure on his return to first-class cricket following a career-threatening injury five years ago.
From an underwhelming talented batsman who had three first-class centuries, he struck four more and increased his average from 26.8 to 36.9 in the space of 17 innings in the National Cricket League (for Dhaka Metropolis) and the Bangladesh Cricket League (for Central Zone).
Mohammad Ashraful, his senior teammate in first-class cricket, told him to increase his endurance, which would translate to better concentration for longer innings. "It was a simple piece of advice from Ashraful bhai. He told me to increase the intensity of my training sessions. I have to run more laps, for instance, so that my concentration increases.
"I had to bat longer in the nets, so that I got used to playing longer innings. I had to do all of that in the field, but that advice really helped. Endurance, fitness and longevity in the field are all connected together," Marshall said.
As a quirk of fate, Marshall is now closest to taking Ashraful's No. 3 slot after the former Bangladesh captain was provisionally suspended for alleged involvement in corruption during the BPL.
Their batting styles could not be any more different as Marshall likes to take a more traditional approach to building an innings, coupled with his overall quiet and calm disposition. Jurgensen and the rest of the Bangladesh team management have been looking for a batsman with solidity in a line-up that is full of aggressive batsmen like Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan and Nasir Hossain.
Marshall could be their answer, but No. 3 has been a troubled position in the Bangladesh team since Bashar's retirement. Drafting in a new guy in one of the most important places in the team is a major call, so Marshall has to be in control of his emotions, as he has always been through the most difficult of times.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here