January 24, 2003

Marsh finally fires

Brent Read
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NEWCASTLE, NSW, Jan 24 AAP - West Australian teenager Shaun Marsh had one thing on his mind after bringing up his maiden Pura Cup century against NSW in Newcastle today - Zimbabwe.

Why? Because that's where Marsh's father and mentor - former Test opener Geoff - is based as Zimbabwe's national cricket coach.

The 19-year-old couldn't wait to give his father a call after dominating the second day at Newcastle's No.1 Sportsground, combining in an unbroken 194-run fourth-wicket stand with Michael Hussey which left WA holding the whip hand.

At stumps, the Warriors were 3-273 in reply to the NSW first innings of 370, with the Blues needing early wickets tomorrow to have any chance of taking the outright points needed to keep pressure on second-placed Victoria on the Pura Cup table.

Marsh was not out 114 and Michael Hussey 90, with the pair adding their runs at better than a run a minute.

Marsh, who gave Hussey an 18-run start, brought up his maiden century with a pair of sixes off Mark Waugh, moving from 93 to 105 by lofting consecutive deliveries from the former Test player over the mid-wicket fence.

Waugh and his brother Steve both raced in to congratulate the teenager.

"It's a pretty good feeling when the Australia captain comes up to you and says well done mate," Marsh said.

"In the last Second XI game I brought up my hundred with two sixes as well so I don't know if that's coincidence.

"The quicker the better, get my nerves out the way."

Marsh, who made his first-class debut for WA two years ago at the age of 17, spent time in the off-season in Zimbabwe working on his batting.

"I spent a month just before the season working over there with him (his father)," he said. "I haven't really had him around for a while. We worked on the batting...every day. I can't wait to speak to him tonight."

Hussey - holder of an ACB contract - was more circumspect but no less effective as he edged towards his first Pura Cup century of the summer.

The 27-year-old, coming off rich pickings in England where he was the first player to score 1000 runs during the season with Northamptonshire, played a steady hand after coming in with NSW buzzing and WA reeling.

He and Murray Goodwin (41) combined in a partnership of 62 to steer WA back from 2-17 before an unhappy Goodwin was dismissed when he shouldered arms to Stuart Clark and was given out lbw, making the score 3-79.

"It's the sort of wicket if you capitalise with the new ball you can probably make some inroads as we did with them losing three quick wickets," NSW coach Steve Rixon said.

"But as the ball got a bit softer...we needed to create some new opportunities, try some new things."

And the plan for tomorrow?

"To get seven quick wickets and get on with the game," Rixon said.

Earlier today, WA ended a nagging partnership between Stuart MacGill (20) and Stuart Clark (35) and then quickly took care of the rest of the NSW tail.

Left-arm wrist spinner Beau Casson, who took plenty of stick from Michael Clarke and Mark Waugh yesterday, finished with 2-58 from 14.3 overs, while Callum Thorp took 3-63 and Michael Clark 3-72.