Australia in India 2016-17 March 2, 2017

Was good to get out of the spotlight - Mitchell Marsh

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'Want to continue our winning ways at this ground' - Marsh

It's an odd anachronism that 21 is still considered such an important age.

In Australia, for example, 21st birthdays are widely celebrated much the same as 18th birthdays, even though minors legally become adults once they turn 18. Cards are adorned with keys, cakes are baked in the shape of them, symbolizing the bestowing of the keys of adulthood to people who have been adults for three years.

For whatever reason, turning 21 remains a mystical moment. The coming of age.

If Mitchell Marsh plays in Bengaluru, his Test career will turn 21. But it feels as though he's been coming of age for a very long time.

Consider Marsh when he first hit adulthood. After captaining Australia to victory in the U19s World Cup, he was playing for Deccan Chargers in the IPL as an 18-year-old alongside Adam Gilchrist in a team coached by Darren Lehmann, a fact that seems almost ridiculous in its generational incongruity.

Seven years and 20 Tests down the track, Marsh has a batting average of 22.79 and 29 wickets at an average of 37.27. That he is blessed with an abundance of talent is undeniable; that talent comes with expectations his critics feel have not been met.

Marsh-bashing is a frequent occurrence on social media and the selection of brothers Mitchell or Shaun is guaranteed to spark a new round. The younger brother has the added burden of being an Australian allrounder, a position that attracts more scrutiny and criticism than most.

Just ask Shane Watson.

In fact, Marsh does just that. Heralded as the natural replacement for Watson at the end of his Test career, Marsh now seeks him out for advice.

"I've spoken to Watto," Marsh said. "Since he's retired he's been fantastic. He's always been open to me giving him a call or a text. I could use him a little bit more, he's always open for a conversation which is great."

Watson could no doubt give just as much advice on how to cope with flak off the field as he could on how to perform on it. When he passed the allrounder's mantle on to Marsh it came with a target attached, something that unsettled Marsh to the extent he stopped reading comments about himself on social media altogether.

"I try not to look too much into it," said Marsh. "I wouldn't have too much confidence if I read all the comments on Facebook. That's part and parcel of playing cricket for Australia at the top level. People are always entitled to their opinion, that's fine by me. It doesn't stress me out. I used to read a lot of it then I had 10 innings where I didn't get over 30, I didn't have much to read so I stopped reading it.

When the selectors cut a swathe through the Australian squad in the wake of the humiliating loss to South Africa in Hobart they didn't miss Marsh. He had played only the Perth Test and was left out of the Hobart match in favour of Callum Ferguson. With no opportunities available to play first-class cricket, he returned home to join up with the Perth Scorchers.

"In a way it was probably a good thing because I just went back to the Big Bash and enjoyed myself, tried to slog a few and managed to get a few out of the middle," said Marsh. "But away from the game I worked on a few things that I feel will hold me in good stead if I can play in Australia again or play in other conditions. Sometimes it's nice to get out of the spotlight. I was obviously under a lot of pressure for a while so in a way it was nice to get back to play with the Scorchers and here I am."

Marsh wasn't required for bowling duties in the first Test but he applied himself for a watchful 31 runs on the crumbling pitch. For a powerful, attacking batsman, it was a commendable show of restraint in such conditions. It was followed by dressing-room celebrations that Marsh described as the best four hours of his life.

"It was good, it gave me a lot of confidence," said Marsh. "Even though I made only 30, being out in the middle for 80 balls certainly gave me a lot of confidence. Hopefully this wicket is a little better and I can turn it into a big score for us."

"I think it's just about adapting. That's something we always speak about, Steven (Smith) always talks to us about it. In these conditions you've got to earn the right to attack and that's by having a solid defence. That's what I've been working on."

Marsh has also been working on gaining the trust of his brother. Shaun's nine-month old son, Austin, is on the tour and Uncle Mitch is being allowed to babysit his nephew for the first time.

"You earn your trust," said Marsh, while conceding he wasn't very confident on nappy-changing.

"It's taken me a while but I've got there now."

If he can produce his best in India, that's a statement he may make for many Tests beyond his 21st.

Melinda Farrell is a presenter with ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricinfouser on March 5, 2017, 14:00 GMT

    Australia doesn't have a history of great all-rounders so I don't really understand why we keep trying to manufacture them. Stats wise Keith Miller was our best male all rounder and Watto actually fares quite well. If you count keepers then Gilchrist could be the best ever but it's impossible to compare a keeper batsman with a batting/bowling all rounder. Watto could have been even better if his body hadn't been made of glass. Symonds is the only guy I can recall who was picked purely on potential and one day form and delivered for a short time at test level. But he never cracked 50 wickets so a long way from true all rounder status. All our previous "nearly" all rounders were picked because they excelled at one discipline. Mitch Marsh, for all his potential, is neither - he doesn't demand a place in the top 6 and outside of 1 day cricket he is not a front line bowler. For all that I hope he makes it - he needs to work really hard on his batting.

  • Haiphong on March 5, 2017, 8:50 GMT

    I HOPE that this 21st Test is his LAST! Even the blind can see it should be...

  • St John Smythe on March 4, 2017, 11:00 GMT

    What do the selectors actually expect from having Mitch Marsh in the team. At best he might be able to slog a tired bowling attack around the park when the top order has already made merry; and bowl maximum 10 overs for a couple of lucky wickets. After 20 tests (much more than other fringe players get) he has not even been able to show this instead being a walking wicket and bowling a few token overs an innings. Australian management also had the nerve to tell Jackson Bird that he wasnt making enough runs. There seems to be an unwillingness for the selectors to admit their mistakes (also with Wade) and just plough on until he finally gets a lucky day. On top of this, he was only dropped a few tests ago and has done absolutely nothing since to warrant a reselection.

  • cricfan06964670 on March 4, 2017, 1:36 GMT

    this is the most over-indulged teenager ever. that he would be picked ahead of either Khawaja or Maxwell is a travesty of balance over proportion.

    bring back Watto!

  • Downtheorder on March 3, 2017, 23:10 GMT

    The tragedy of the continued Marsh selections is that eventually, if given enough chances, they'll do something half decent - as did Glenn McGrath with the bat...eventually!!). Then the selectors will justify the big hole they have dug themselves, by saying they always saw this potential - and it'll be even harder to be rid of them. Unfair to so many others....

  • Chris_P on March 3, 2017, 23:00 GMT

    @IZZIDOLE. I've never had an issue with Faulkner in SF, one of the first who should be selected, but his FC figures, bowling wise, for the past 3 seasons make for very poor viewing. He simply is not taking wickets. He wouldn't even rate among our 10 best quick bowlers let alone our 4 best Test bowlers & therein lies the problem. His batting isn't good enough for a top 6 spot nor is his bowling good enough for a test spot so should never be considered, based on current form, in our test squad. We should have learnt from England's past selections with bits & piece players for the all-rounder's spot. @MAD_HAMISH. MoHen's FC figures don't look flashy, BUT, the past 5 seasons has him averaging 56 with the bat & 29 with the ball. However, since that injury in England he isn't bowling so often & now fills in as a bowler to bowl a few overs rather than his more frontline duties. His batting has improved even more. We have to select the best 6 for the conditions, if they bowl, that is a bonus.

  • Chris_P on March 3, 2017, 22:47 GMT

    @TESTCRICROX. You are doing a great disservice to Ishant. he has at least contributed to a few victories for India. It may be his 21st, but India is getting the present!

  • Matt.au on March 3, 2017, 14:19 GMT

    @HaipHong Yes, an unchanged team. Should we win this test and the Marsh brothers fail again, they will be named in the 3rd test.

    I've sat here and tried to understand the selectors, find one reason either of them should be in the side, I can't do it. I can't find one single thing that any serious cricket follower could put up for me to say "fair enough, they should be picked"

    I nearly weep every time I see Wades name in the team.

  • E = mc squared on March 3, 2017, 12:21 GMT

    @TESTCRICROX: I agree with you. I do not know why these guys keep getting picked. Perhaps it is because they have that x-factor? Problem is that x-factor is hardly ever used!

  • TestCricRox on March 3, 2017, 12:00 GMT

    MM is the ishant sharma of aus

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