March 11, 2014

The Marsh mystery

He looks like one of Australia's top six batsmen, doesn't make the necessary runs in first-class cricket, briefly dazzles in Tests, goes away, then comes back
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Shaun Marsh: the cricketer who does not do enough to get picked but is
Shaun Marsh: the cricketer who does not do enough to get picked but is © Getty Images

An Ian McEwan-reading young chinaman bowler with two wrong'uns in his repertoire, who was rumoured to be perfecting a new delivery, magically tripped up a handful of batsmen at state level many summers ago. He had ex-Test legends for admirers. "My ambition," he said, "is the same as any cricketer… I want to play for Australia one day." After a forgettable afternoon against a touring side this chinaman bowler, this Dolman, disappeared, then two seasons later a glasses-wearing loan officer, Clifford, was acclaimed a Test batsman in the making, and an Ashes squad announcement was imminent. "I suppose," Clifford said, "I'm in with a chance. It would be good, for sure…"

The cricketer who dazzles early, not quite enough to get picked, and fades is an elusive, always wondering sub-branch of cricketer. Had only they been picked, might things have panned out brighter? They do not themselves know, and the thought can dog them. Sometimes the fade-out that happened was instant, total. Or it could have been a gradual dulling. Either way, the not knowing is theirs for life. We tend to assume that whatever small thing prevented them doing enough to get picked would also have inhibited them at the higher level for which they were striving. We don't, though, know this, no more than they do. But one player's still-active cricketing life gives us a half-open window.

Shaun Marsh completed his fourth Test series last week - "completed" in the sense that he was on the field, a small smile threatening to break out of his mouth, for captain Michael Clarke's victory speech in Cape Town, Marsh having ended the series out of the team after making 148, 44, 0 and 0 while he was in the team, scores that screech misprint, and scores characteristic of Marsh so far.

Marsh belongs to a rarer sub-branch: the cricketer who did not do enough to get picked yet is picked. It is strange there are not more of them. But selectors can be dogmatic, superstitious almost, about Test spots being not doled out until a player has dutifully piled up a mound of runs/wickets too big to see past. Occasional exceptions to this are part of well-established cricket lore. If a youngster of obviously stupendous talent rips a dashing hundred and, say, three utterly-at-ease 40s or 60-odds in a five-game-old career, that gives selectors a wildcard licence, it's enough for them to bank on. Or if a team is desperate, a player who has done nothing much yet looked classy while not doing it might sneak in.

But suppose a batsman was picked on the strength of one first-class hundred (a very, very dashing one) every two or so seasons. And what if, across an interrupted 15-innings span, he should proceed to score two Test centuries, plus three 0s for every century, and a 3, to boot, per century, with nearly no in-between scores? Marsh is that batsman. That is how rare he is: the cricketer who without doing enough to get picked is nonetheless picked, re-picked, picked again, and upon being picked proves beyond doubt he has what it takes then immediately sets about disproving it.

It could be coincidence, Marsh's curious stamp album of exotic scores and the unusual circumstances of his selection. Or it may be that when the standard processes of earned selection are bypassed something is lost. Some kind of accountability? Of reliability? We are in the land of conjecture. But selection is a conjecture-based field, and a riddle, being both an art of cricket - like batting, bowling, captaining, umpiring - and an art on which the textbook is no help. Superstition, I mentioned. Perhaps selectors go through their a-player's-gotta-earn-it checks and balances for a reason. They may not fully grasp the reason, but it's there, and it fuels a feeling, a hunch, that if a player is picked without having earned his place it might, or must, result in some lack of… stuff it, let's make the call: accountability.

Also, there's a chance a player's undeserved selection heaps pressure on him, cricket-wise, being-wise. In Marsh's case, it's in his voice, a laconic and friendly sounding voice, but always on the defensive, twisting positivity. He says "really" a lot, often followed by "well":

I wanted to play really well
I was really pleased with the way I went
I'm really looking forward to playing again
I tinkered with my technique and… it seemed to work really well
And the boys played really well

Boys: they are always "the boys", his team-mates, and considering his teams - Scorchers, Warriors, Kings XI Punjab, Glamorgan, Fremantle, Australia A, Australia - he has nearly enough boys to open a boarding school. Cricket's "a tough industry" and he knows he must "put runs on the board", a cliché that has outlived most of the world's Test grounds actually having wooden scoreboards. This is not meant to be mean. They all do blankspeak. Journalists' questions seldom give cricketers much chance to shine. When Marsh talks, we're on a road with no end yet no destination. And he's been on our screens for years now without us having an accurate fix on him. Him looking so much like his dad - that's another thing, and it only throws us further off the scent.

It cannot be dismissed as definitely nothing, the presence of his dad's green cap at home, on the bar, beneath glass, out of fingers' reach. When a Test is on, a ground and its grandstands are cluttered with old Test faces, and to Marsh they are familiar faces in a different way, in fact with some he was throwing ice cubes at them as a six-year-old in a victorious Old Trafford dressing room - wow. It might be a calming sensation, or an extra stress, or both.

Feel for the selectors, who hear voices saying make him earn it, whose own eyes swear he is in Australia's best six batsmen - so minimalist, pure, the illusion of faultlessness. If they require him to earn it and he never does earn it they won't ever be sure what's gone and might have been, and the window will be shut again, no comfort offered, no sting either, to the ranks of the always wondering. It is a puzzle.

Marsh, when asked to grapple with it, has said: "I don't really know."

Runs will right everything. Except he has made 'em before and they didn't.

Christian Ryan is a writer based in Melbourne. He is the author of Golden Boy and Australia: Story of a Cricket Country. His new book is Rock Country

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on March 15, 2014, 2:30 GMT

    @Chris Stonehouse - Marsh capable of greatness? Well if he is capable of greatness - with is record - almost every batsmen selected to play for Tests is capable of greatness. MJ proved he was great - his only problem ws that it wasn't often enuff, MJ had stacks of match winning spells in all forms of the game for Oz. Marsh & MJ cannot be compared. It is an insult to MJ & the work he has done to improve his game. @andrew-schulz on (March 14, 2014, 0:18 GMT) - he probably will get selected & I wish him the best. The main gist of the article is whether he deserved to be selected. It was a great ton he hit in SA - I was cheering for him, but he really has a lot to repay the selectors faith in him which on pure domestic form is not there. In the sub continent (or Middle East) I would rather have Bailey back.

  • Chris_P on March 14, 2014, 19:47 GMT

    @Straightbreaks. OK, I'll play. Marsh did. Now tell me, who has scored 6 ducks in his last 11 test innings? That's 2 ducks less than Clarke's overall test career but with over 160 more innings. We are supposed to be judging him on his overall career, & let me tell you, it makes for very sad reading.

  • Chris_P on March 14, 2014, 19:44 GMT

    @Chris Stonehouse . Mate, simply said, Marsh has never ever deserved consideration for test selection whereas Johnson has. They are poles apart. Marsh's FC stats this season is barely in the top 30, that is the only consistent thing he shows, somewhere in the middle of the field. Yes, he looks very good when on song, the problem is that it rarely happens & his own lack of discipline (witness his discrepancies even when well into his late 20's) confirms this. Stats, sometimes don't reflect the true story, but in this case, they are damning.

  • Straightbreaks on March 14, 2014, 19:09 GMT

    Er Bill Pollock. If the ump says 'not out' then typically he's not out. If the bowler then spits the chewey, he gets fined. Not sure if you have the same rules over in NSW? Maybe that's why Gillie came West?

  • Straightbreaks on March 14, 2014, 18:13 GMT

    WA will win return match. To score 82 in first dig and get within 3 wickets puts them in good stead. Thanks to NSW for handing neutral venue and weeks prior reconnaissance. Chris _P who scored the runs in Jo Berg when the series was up for grabs?

  • on March 14, 2014, 10:18 GMT

    And the drama never stops. On getting his ton against NSW, he was out LBW next ball. He then complained to the umpire that it came off his bat. Umpire then reverses his decision. No talking with the other umpire and no tv review. Lyon then get fined for dissent. Go figure.

  • Seers on March 14, 2014, 6:37 GMT

    Chris_P you've said it all. Spot on. Anything else is unjustified bias towards him (yes he's a top bloke and is a great short form cricketer but that's no reason to pick him for tests c.f George Bailey). And speaking of players with the opposite problem ie not wanted in the Aussie team but should have been it it for years - O'Keefe has today guaranteed NSW a spot in Shield final after two match saving innings in last 2 matches and amazing 40 wickets at 20 avge this year. A complete joke that others like Doherty and Agar have been picked for Australia ahead of him.

  • andrew-schulz on March 14, 2014, 0:18 GMT

    Australia has just won a massively important series, and Marsh's contribution to this must not be forgotten. He was the prime mover in setting this up. Over six Tests, he has the makings of a superb overseas Test record, something selectors should look on very kindly. He should have been preferred to Doolan when Watson came in for the third Test. Now he has come back and played, in a virtual semi-final, an innings very few are capable of in the Sheffield Shield. Chris p and Meety, there is more than enough there to merit selection at number 3 for an Asian series in October (Doolan would be deadweight against the spin)

  • on March 13, 2014, 9:39 GMT

    @ Meety & Chris P: Re: Comparisons to Mitch Johnson... An inconsistent performer, capable of greatness, capable of poor performances, suspect mentally, with stats that possibly didn't justify selection and with an army of knockers out of all proportion to reality. Any of that sound familiar? Mitch has turned things around, Marsh is showing signs of doing the same.

    In the current Shield match, full of Test and fringe players Marsh managed a patient century... with nobody else even making 50, so far at least.

    And drooling? Just because I'm taking a different slant on things? Chris P not everyone's always going to agree with you mate. It's just life I'm afraid.

  • Superoos29 on March 13, 2014, 5:50 GMT

    That latest century by Marsh had taken over 5 hours and 246 balls. Hopefully patience and confidence is something that he has been working on, as he has the technique to match it with the best.

  • Meety on March 15, 2014, 2:30 GMT

    @Chris Stonehouse - Marsh capable of greatness? Well if he is capable of greatness - with is record - almost every batsmen selected to play for Tests is capable of greatness. MJ proved he was great - his only problem ws that it wasn't often enuff, MJ had stacks of match winning spells in all forms of the game for Oz. Marsh & MJ cannot be compared. It is an insult to MJ & the work he has done to improve his game. @andrew-schulz on (March 14, 2014, 0:18 GMT) - he probably will get selected & I wish him the best. The main gist of the article is whether he deserved to be selected. It was a great ton he hit in SA - I was cheering for him, but he really has a lot to repay the selectors faith in him which on pure domestic form is not there. In the sub continent (or Middle East) I would rather have Bailey back.

  • Chris_P on March 14, 2014, 19:47 GMT

    @Straightbreaks. OK, I'll play. Marsh did. Now tell me, who has scored 6 ducks in his last 11 test innings? That's 2 ducks less than Clarke's overall test career but with over 160 more innings. We are supposed to be judging him on his overall career, & let me tell you, it makes for very sad reading.

  • Chris_P on March 14, 2014, 19:44 GMT

    @Chris Stonehouse . Mate, simply said, Marsh has never ever deserved consideration for test selection whereas Johnson has. They are poles apart. Marsh's FC stats this season is barely in the top 30, that is the only consistent thing he shows, somewhere in the middle of the field. Yes, he looks very good when on song, the problem is that it rarely happens & his own lack of discipline (witness his discrepancies even when well into his late 20's) confirms this. Stats, sometimes don't reflect the true story, but in this case, they are damning.

  • Straightbreaks on March 14, 2014, 19:09 GMT

    Er Bill Pollock. If the ump says 'not out' then typically he's not out. If the bowler then spits the chewey, he gets fined. Not sure if you have the same rules over in NSW? Maybe that's why Gillie came West?

  • Straightbreaks on March 14, 2014, 18:13 GMT

    WA will win return match. To score 82 in first dig and get within 3 wickets puts them in good stead. Thanks to NSW for handing neutral venue and weeks prior reconnaissance. Chris _P who scored the runs in Jo Berg when the series was up for grabs?

  • on March 14, 2014, 10:18 GMT

    And the drama never stops. On getting his ton against NSW, he was out LBW next ball. He then complained to the umpire that it came off his bat. Umpire then reverses his decision. No talking with the other umpire and no tv review. Lyon then get fined for dissent. Go figure.

  • Seers on March 14, 2014, 6:37 GMT

    Chris_P you've said it all. Spot on. Anything else is unjustified bias towards him (yes he's a top bloke and is a great short form cricketer but that's no reason to pick him for tests c.f George Bailey). And speaking of players with the opposite problem ie not wanted in the Aussie team but should have been it it for years - O'Keefe has today guaranteed NSW a spot in Shield final after two match saving innings in last 2 matches and amazing 40 wickets at 20 avge this year. A complete joke that others like Doherty and Agar have been picked for Australia ahead of him.

  • andrew-schulz on March 14, 2014, 0:18 GMT

    Australia has just won a massively important series, and Marsh's contribution to this must not be forgotten. He was the prime mover in setting this up. Over six Tests, he has the makings of a superb overseas Test record, something selectors should look on very kindly. He should have been preferred to Doolan when Watson came in for the third Test. Now he has come back and played, in a virtual semi-final, an innings very few are capable of in the Sheffield Shield. Chris p and Meety, there is more than enough there to merit selection at number 3 for an Asian series in October (Doolan would be deadweight against the spin)

  • on March 13, 2014, 9:39 GMT

    @ Meety & Chris P: Re: Comparisons to Mitch Johnson... An inconsistent performer, capable of greatness, capable of poor performances, suspect mentally, with stats that possibly didn't justify selection and with an army of knockers out of all proportion to reality. Any of that sound familiar? Mitch has turned things around, Marsh is showing signs of doing the same.

    In the current Shield match, full of Test and fringe players Marsh managed a patient century... with nobody else even making 50, so far at least.

    And drooling? Just because I'm taking a different slant on things? Chris P not everyone's always going to agree with you mate. It's just life I'm afraid.

  • Superoos29 on March 13, 2014, 5:50 GMT

    That latest century by Marsh had taken over 5 hours and 246 balls. Hopefully patience and confidence is something that he has been working on, as he has the technique to match it with the best.

  • Dangertroy on March 13, 2014, 4:09 GMT

    And the mystery continues with a century in the current shield match. His past six innings read: 148, 44, 0, 0, 0, 113.

    To everyone who is complaining about his consistency, I think he has now shown that he has been working on it. He is now consistently inconsistent.

  • ygkd on March 13, 2014, 2:44 GMT

    Over the years I've come to occasionally wonder what might have happened if favoured players hadn't been so constantly blessed with a myriad of opportunities. Maybe others would have seized their chance or two and gone on to even better things. I just read an article about a constantly bench-warming footballer who, having moved to another club, has found himself thrust into the limelight through an injury to someone else. I expect he'll do well and if he does, he won't be the first to succeed under that scenario. Selection is an inexact science. Sometimes, even, it seems to descend into lottery territory where a few do very well for themselves. Two Test tons for Marsh is a pretty good return for someone whose FC career is arguably no better than, or even lesser than, that of a fair number of others.

  • Chris_P on March 13, 2014, 1:04 GMT

    @Chris Stonehouse. Sorry bud, but your Marsh drooling is a little over the top. 12 seasons yielding 9 fc centuries, fc average of mid 30's, 6 of his last 11 test innings he has failed to score. Was dropped from the WA shield side last season. We are referring to first class only, forget his IPL and one day form, it means squat to first class & tests as he continually shows us with his average returns. Mitch John son is no comparison as he had shown test quality form in the past, (09 series in SA comes to mind). Johnson still had a FC average for test consideration, Marsh does not. His return to Shield in the current match saw him get a second ball duck.

  • Chris_P on March 13, 2014, 0:55 GMT

    The only mystery is why he keeps getting selected after poor to ordinary returns? Of course there is pressure for him to perform when selected for clearly he didn't deserve selection in the first place! We are not so bereft of talent to surely offer him another chance, surely not.

  • on March 12, 2014, 21:49 GMT

    Very well written article, shall remember your name.

  • BlazingArrow89 on March 12, 2014, 14:11 GMT

    It appears even CA have their favourite son. It is just sad he is not as good or consistent enough.

  • izzidole on March 12, 2014, 11:49 GMT

    Marsh was very lucky to be selected for the South Africa test series despite his poor average in domestic cricket . He recovered from his injury and was recalled into the side just in time for the first test . He scored a fantastic century in the first innings and followed it up with another big score in the second innings to prove to everyone that he had finally arrived. He was in full control and full of confidence. By the time the second test started he seemed to have lost all his confidence and his body language seemed very negative when he walked into bat. He had picked up his bad habits and eventually ended up scoring a duck in both innings which brought about his downfall. He has never been consistent right through his test career and has failed to seal a place in the aussie cricket team for the last four years since he made his debut scoring a century against Sri Lanka. I reckon that he is mentally not strong enough for test cricket other than in limited overs cricket.

  • Meety on March 12, 2014, 11:20 GMT

    @Chris Stonehouse - the comparison between Marsh & MJ is laughable. MJ had proven performance behind when he got drafted into the Oz set up. Marsh averages one good shield knock a summer. Miles of differences. MJ got bagged - because when it went wrong for him - it was horrible. But guess what? MJ went back to basics - worked his ass off & is delivering what DK Lillee said he could do. I don't see that from Marsh - as Hyclass says (hope I am wrong) he is due an injury of some sort soon.

  • Beertjie on March 12, 2014, 11:00 GMT

    Invers will ensure Marsh is in the UAE squad. Assuming they take Faulkner as a standby in case Watto gets injured, that probably leaves one further batting place and they'll need to take a good one because Marsh won't play well enough to justify selection for all 3 tests. If that happens we can only pray that that will be the end of that experiment. @Chris Stonehouse, I agree that when on form he looks a million dollars, but consistency needs to be the watchword or we'll go bust again. I'd like to see other experiments aborted as well unless the weaknesses are sufficiently addressed: Doolan doesn't rotate the strike and could easily get the team bogged down. Bailey is hardly a #3 so that leaves Hughes. He's a flat-track (and weak attack) bully unable to cope with spin so the opposition will work him over imo. I'd give Ferguson a go before returning to anyone who's already been tried. Other young guns need to demonstrate better form by getting big scores against good attacks.

  • ThreePIllarTales on March 12, 2014, 8:22 GMT

    So beautiful when on song and utter crap the next ten innings ! He's in the cricket silver spoon club that's why. No mental steel. I'd rather give Doolan or Khawaja a decent run. Hughes has been made to wait soooo long. Inverarity must dislike Hughes and Khawaja...both sent back to state level without a real stint to get confident.

  • mondotv on March 12, 2014, 6:51 GMT

    @aus_trad - I would agree with that summation wholeheartedly but I think there is another reason he keeps getting picked and that is John Inverarity. Obviously from the same state as Marsh. And obviously a believer - why? I don't know. He simply isn't up to test standard. Except when the stars align. If you are going to pick guys with potential but mediocre Test records then look at Hughes and Kawaja - neither of them has a Shield batting average lower than their age. Ouch!

  • on March 12, 2014, 6:12 GMT

    He is Australia s Rohit Sharma..Style, grace, talent minus the record and powerful backing despite their worthlessness.

  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on March 12, 2014, 3:55 GMT

    he is rohit sharma of australian version

  • on March 12, 2014, 0:47 GMT

    This article feels like it was written by someone who looked up Marsh's stats, but knows little or nothing about him at all.

    Firstly, you only need to watch him bat while in form to see why the selectors select. In full flow there's few better, more stylish batsmen in the world.

    Secondly, the inconsistencies are mainly down to lack of application early in his career, coupled with back and hamstring problems. Since Justin Langer became WA coach, the former problems at least seems to have been well and truly resolved.

    Lastly, no mention of his 20/20 abilities? As you seem to like stats so much... check out his IPL record.

    Marsh seems to cop alot from cricket 'experts'. Much like his WA team mate Mitch Johnson used to. Funny how all these Johnson bashers seem to have disappeared into the ether. Hopefully Marsh can silence his critics equally.

  • PandemoniumBawa on March 12, 2014, 0:25 GMT

    Frankly, Marsh is a quality player who is judged in a hasty manner.. I feel that he is not given enough time in one go for him to gain confidence.. His spot has always been under threat, in tests by Hughes and in one days, Watson..

    Though I personally feel, he is not the guy for test matches..

    As for consistency, in BBL and IPL, we have seen him score loads of runs..

  • OneEyedAussie on March 11, 2014, 23:10 GMT

    I remember thinking 4-5 years ago that Marsh will mature into a quality test batsman - that he was just going through that inconsistent phase that all batsmen in their early-mid twenties do. Well, it looks like he never grew out of it. Warner and Smith have - good on them. Hughes most likely will too. I hope Khawaja does but I'm becoming a doubter.

  • aus_trad on March 11, 2014, 22:19 GMT

    @hyclass, I think the jury is still out on whether the recent dearth of top-class test batsmen in Aus is cyclical, or due to factors such as T20. At the moment I think there is a good chance that it is cyclical. From the late 1950s until around 2005, there was a veritable assembly line churning out top quality batsmen in Aus - at which point, it stopped (Michael CLarke being the last one). However, don't forget that in the decade 1948-1958 (approx), very few high class test batsmen made their debut (Colin McDonald, Peter Burge...that's about it). Maybe Clarke was the "last of the Mohicans"...or maybe the rise of Warner and Steve Smith has heralded the start of the next instalment of the "assembly line" scenario. As I say, too early to judge (the next 5 years will reveal all!)

  • on March 11, 2014, 21:49 GMT

    Put simply, I think Marsh's problems are mental, rather than to do with ability. Players should be made to earn their Test spots. There are exceptions - occasionally a player will announce himself with brilliance, and will be rushed in (Gilchrist, Warne, Lillee, even Warner) - but Marsh is not one of these (and neither is Doolan). People like Mike Hussey and Mark Waugh must shudder when they compare how long they had to wait for their Test debuts with the way some players are rushed in!

  • ygkd on March 11, 2014, 21:27 GMT

    There was a time when Marsh did make two tons in one FC season. It was about a decade ago and he averaged less than forty that year (if my memory serves me correctly).

  • Chris_Howard on March 11, 2014, 21:02 GMT

    It's quite simple. His name is not S. Watson.

    Therefore he only gets one chance, like Hughes, Khawaja, etc. He blew it with a pair this time. (He was unfortunate after his first stint to get injured)

    You don't score multiple Test hundreds without the skill to do so. So, as others say, it's in his head.

    But how can any player get his head right knowing that (if your name is not S. Watson), one failure and you're out?

  • on March 11, 2014, 18:35 GMT

    The Shaun Marsh cipher!! Well written Christian, I say he is Australia's very own Mahela Jayawardene with a little less self belief.

  • on March 11, 2014, 18:05 GMT

    This article was very difficult to digest due to the structure.

  • on March 11, 2014, 15:07 GMT

    Honestly I think it's a mix of things for Marsh, his constant injuries for starters, but more than that his own personal ambition, does he have that 100% thirst to become as good a cricketer as he can be? I don't think that he does. Also I have to doubt his confidence in his own game, the way he gets caught in two minds so early, so often, does he have a 100% clearl strategy? Doesn't really look that way. Finally, is he a strong enough character? When you can't say no to one more drink at the bar and it ends up in trouble, not just once but on several occasions, then you would have to say no, again. The guy has talent, anyone can see that, but the rest of it needs work and a lot of it. He needs someone like a Mike Hussey who had all of these things in spades to guide him.

    @Hyclass, I'm not sure that there are no metrics for success in T20, far from it, it's just that none of them will help in test cricket!

  • hyclass on March 11, 2014, 14:12 GMT

    True in most respects @Winsome. There's little question in my mind that the travails of the rising youth are not cyclical, but entirely a result of 20/20, which contains none of the elements of Test cricket. Its almost entirely a different sport. It's instructional that most who have succeeded over the last five years, were those whose games were established before 20/20 arrived. Endurance is one of the great training elements of character. It cant be present in 120 balls and the player payment system built around it has devalued the entire traditional establishment. There are few metrics for success or failure in 20/20 and another innings is just around the corner. It's the great devaluing of the cricket brand. There is talk of Marsh in the IPL, but the talent pool is heavily diluted by the volumes of teams around the world and players needed to populate them. Grounds are small and quick and pitches flat. It's throwaway cricket, cultivating a throwaway generation of cricketers.

  • on March 11, 2014, 13:40 GMT

    he reminds me a bit of Graeme Wood, who could make batting look effortless on his day, scored 9 tons, but was constantly droppable.

    Silk is the one I would give a go. 3 tons in his first 5 FC games and two of them against Harris would have been enough in the old days. Ask Ian Davis. Dubai the perfect place to check him out.

  • CrapySaysThat on March 11, 2014, 13:15 GMT

    When you watch Big Bash it looks Aus is bubbling with talent and new power horses but when you look at the team you see the same old tired faces with same technical flaws and it makes you think.. what the hell .. why they have not picked the true young talent.. why not Khawaja.. why not Maddinson.. why not Clint... and then you realize that it is 30% talent and 70% connections that count. Why Aus is achieving a win through one bowler or batsman is the fact that chances are given to people with right man at the right place in the selection board. Shaun Marsh will keep on getting chances till he has the right man sitting at the right place and some Khawaja, Maddinson, .. will sit outside piling runs after runs in domestic cricket waiting for a chance. It may change one day.... may...... hope!!!

  • Busie1979 on March 11, 2014, 12:20 GMT

    There are many players whose performance do not get rewarded, while lesser players like Marsh get picked on potential. David Hussey and Stephen O'keefe are the obvious current examples (even though Hussey doesn't deserve to be picked on form and is probably past his prime). Marsh, Bailey, Quiney, and Doolan have not deserved selecton, whereas Khawaja and Smith were line ball selections. The Smith selection is the only selection among this maybe brigade that has worked so far. The fact that the rest of these guys have not succeeded is hardly surprising. Hughes has to be picked because he is the only guy that has earned it with consistent first class seasons and needs to be persisted with, at least until someone else starts putting their hand up for selection. More importantly, picking Hughes sends the right message to aspiring batsmen - runs trumps style and potential.

  • vik56in on March 11, 2014, 11:42 GMT

    Consistency has never been Shaun Marsh's forte ! He has all the talent and the technique .!So it must be all in the head !

  • aus_trad on March 11, 2014, 11:37 GMT

    No "mystery", really. In eras in which there are lots of good batsmen knocking on the door of the test team (for instance in Australia between 1990 and 2005, approx.), only high quality batsmen will be picked. In an era such as the current one (in Aus), when the cupboard is much more nearly bare, batsmen with marginal claims will be given a chance. Shaun Marsh is one: but don't forget also George Bailey and Rob Quiney (and maybe others whom I have forgotten). Also remember guys like Greg Ritchie (1980s - a weak era for Aus). There would be many other examples, but these suffice to illustrate the principle.

  • Winsome on March 11, 2014, 10:57 GMT

    Hyclass, you are only saying what all WA fans know already and have known for years. It's not the guy's fault, it's the stupidity and gullibility of the national and to some extent, the WA selectors. At least Langer had the balls to drop him from the WA team a couple of times, once for underperformance and once for overperformance (off the field!). Trouble is now that he's back 'around' the test team, he won't be droppable for the Shield team, CA will make sure of that. Plus WA's youngsters apart from Whiteman are so mediocre with the bat, he's probably still beter than them.

  • Barnesy4444 on March 11, 2014, 10:53 GMT

    Marsh proves that cricket really is 90% mental.

    Lehmann has improved the team, not by changing techniques, but by addressing what's between the ears of players.

  • BradmanBestEver on March 11, 2014, 10:39 GMT

    @TheBigBoodha - nicely put - rofl

  • BradmanBestEver on March 11, 2014, 10:38 GMT

    Forget about how much talent he has - PERFORMANCE is what counts

  • Tumbarumbar on March 11, 2014, 10:35 GMT

    I outlined my 'Marsh is a Wererabbit theory' in response to a comment on another post and think I should expand on it. You see when the moon is in the right phase Marsh turns into a rabbit and eats heaps of carrots. This improves his eyesight allowing him to score freely. When he is in his human form of course he despises carrots and his eyesight deteriorates. At that point he becomes duckman.

  • TheBigBoodha on March 11, 2014, 10:23 GMT

    I feel truly sad for the guy. He has all the ability, but something isn't right upstairs. Once the demons come knocking on the door, he just seems to invite them all in for a cuppa.

  • Andre117 on March 11, 2014, 10:21 GMT

    Shaun Marsh has obvious talent (after a breath-taking IPL where he did not record a single failure through an entire IPL season). I want to know what the selectors saw in Doolan. A Sheffield Shield 2013/14 average of 35 and a FC average of 37 (I remember times when you needed a FC average over 50 to get into the Aussie team). After and during his first test all the commentators were gushing about how he looked like a proper test batsman, but after the series he may never see another test. Same thing with Ashton Agar: a breath-taking debut but crap since (not doing so great this season either).

  • on March 11, 2014, 10:09 GMT

    He is very talented, problem is inconsistency.

  • on March 11, 2014, 9:25 GMT

    Shaun Marsh is almost exactly the same age as Cameron White, and yet has a lower 1st Class average, less than half the 1st Class centuries, isn't as good a fielder, and doesn't bring White's legspin to the game.

    And yet he's supposed to be a brilliant batsman, and supposedly Australia's saviour at 3. It's like Marcus North being selected for all those Tests ahead of Brad Hodge and David Hussey, both of them had much superior batting records, and were at least as good with the ball in hand.

    The selectors seem to get a bee in their bonnets about some players and either pick them or not pick them irrespective of their actual performances.

  • hyclass on March 11, 2014, 8:54 GMT

    There continues to be a mindset, that technique is the panacea. It is only a reference point for the basics when starting out and even then, wont make runs by itself. One must apply observation and intention to a well considered plan, from which one may adapt. To succeed, a batsman requires an attacking plan, a defensive plan and the courage, endurance and physical ability to enact it. The best players have the ability to adapt late to movement. Marsh doesnt. The worst technique I ever saw, was former Vic and Sth Aus opener, Paul Nobes, who was almost front on and entirely backfoot. He averaged 41.75 and scored 10 centuries. There is some irony in Lehmann as coach.His 1st Class record was extraordinary, but it can hardly have passed notice that his technique wont be found in any textbook. Steve Waugh described removing that which didnt work. That applies the mind in the moment, to observing exactly what is working each ball. Technique creates a relationship with the bat - not the ball.

  • 9-Monkeys on March 11, 2014, 8:51 GMT

    They say 90% of elite sport is played between the ears. For mine this absolutely holds true for Test cricket and sadly this is where Marsh falls down. Given his age and his time in the system (without meaningful improvement) I don't think he will ever find the mental consistency needed to be a regular Test batsmen. In fact his record suggests that he is only an average first class batsmen. Given how technically sound he is, how good would have he been if he had been blessed with the determination of his old man, or say someone like Simon Katich?

    But then I guess mulling over the could and should have beens - both players and results, is part and parcel of being a cricket tragic. I love it!

  • hyclass on March 11, 2014, 8:39 GMT

    Marsh has performed, exactly as I said he would on each occasion. When he was announced for SA, I declared to my pro-Marsh workmates that he would score a hundred, a forty and a run of zeros. I see today that he lasted two balls in the Shield game vs NSW. That makes three zeros from six balls, from his last three innings. Even the most cursory of investigation into his career, reveals why. His runs continue to be made on soft pitches. In other words, the pitch suits him or he fails. There's no adapting mechanism. His ODI runs at the postage stamp, batting paradise of Bankstown Oval. His seasonal runs at Adelaide. The opening two days of the first Test in SA, before the pitch broke up. His debut century in SL on a carpet, lightning outfield vs a C-Grade attack. It cant have passed notice by so many seasoned observers.I once investigated his career, end to end and found him available for no more than 4-5 games before injury. Each season the same.He simply isn't fit for long form cricket.

  • venbas on March 11, 2014, 8:25 GMT

    India has enough parallels to Marsh. Agarkar in the most famous example in the earlier crop...he had a century at the venerable Lords honor board that eluded Sachin. In the current crop the Rainas and Rohit Sharma's always seem to just keep coming, blitz their way for a fantabulistic century only to fade away for a duck in the very next innings....

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on March 11, 2014, 6:46 GMT

    He's the multi millionaire who does'nt even know theres a bank a/c somewhere in his name.To put it,hes an abundance of talent that can be seen by every1 but 1-he himself.Needs to stop being shy of own talent,grow some mental fortitude,improve work ethic.

  • pick_at_the_seam on March 11, 2014, 6:44 GMT

    hughes for me. if for no other reason than that he is racking up runs in shield cricket. can't be a bad reason can it? He should be opening or in first drop. the real question should be who fills the other spot.

    on that note if the selectors find someone with raw talent - dont sanitise his technique and wreck his game like hughes.

  • PrasPunter on March 11, 2014, 6:34 GMT

    Shaun Marsh is a puzzle !! Should he get some counselling on mindset than technique ? Dont see anything wrong with his technique !!

  • Humdingers on March 11, 2014, 6:06 GMT

    I would rather see a bloke with far less talent but who is hungry to succeed and gives everything (Steve Smith comes to mind) than someone who is talented but frustrates (i.e.: Marsh). Having said that I do not see Doolan being part of the team - sure he can catch, but he's in there for his batting. Stick with Hughes / Kawaja? Try someone else out? But who?

  • heathrf1974 on March 11, 2014, 5:33 GMT

    He's player with talent but for some reason his mental preparation or mental status is not right.

  • Sanj747 on March 11, 2014, 5:31 GMT

    Not a good day at the office today either for Marsh. Can't see him coming back into the team.

  • Favell on March 11, 2014, 5:29 GMT

    An outstanding article Christian, a brave attempt to solve the unsolvable dilemma of Sean Marsh. Like you, I suspect, I have never been impressed with him, because I always suspected his "break out" performances were symptomatic of his inconsistency. Yes, he has occasional days in the sun and always when you least expect them. There seems to be something going on his head - a suspicion on his part that any journalist he talks to wonders why he is there to talk to. I think he has done his dash now. He needs a string of big scores, the weight of runs, not the fluke of runs to maybe force a return - after an injury or retirement, maybe. But you know he isn't the only enigma - Phil Hughes and Khawaja; the 2012 that Cameron White couldn't score a run to save his international career, and probably a great many I've missed. Thanks for the read. What did happen to Dolman?

  • cricketsubh on March 11, 2014, 4:46 GMT

    i do not think marsh can be a bud test player he canot use his gud from and not constitance in of

  • derpherp on March 11, 2014, 4:30 GMT

    He just made a second ball duck playing for WA. I don't think he has ever been good.

  • Sir_Francis on March 11, 2014, 4:27 GMT

    Marsh's problems are probably between the ears. Certainly a good technique is important but performances are more important. So selections of people like Doolan & Marsh ahead of Hughes do grate.

    Haven't seen the names Malcolm Dolman & Peter Clifford in years. As I am their age I do vaguely recall them. Clifford, along with Dave Gilbert (for the last wicket), won a Shield 30 years ago.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on March 11, 2014, 4:18 GMT

    Shaun Marsh's the most naturally gifted LH stroke maker in world.Easily 1 of most talented ever-up with Sobers/Pollock or even Lara.His batting in IPL 1 was some of best you'll see.Also sparringly shown his wares @ int. level.Alas talent's not everything.

  • on March 11, 2014, 4:16 GMT

    Geoff Marsh in my opinion was a vastly overrated player who should never have been picked to play for Australia in the first place; Shaun has far less to live up to than first thought. Geoff's son also at least doesn't seem to have the work ethic of his old man, and I think would perhaps fit into a more mature team, I think Shaun needs to be guided by an 'old hand' more perhaps, and this current team is more like a gang of mates, which I think does him a large disservice.

  • HatsforBats on March 11, 2014, 4:04 GMT

    I am one of those Marsh fans who wants to see him batting at 3 for Australia. I'm also one of those fans that knows he has never deserved to be selected, should be a long way from being considered, and should probably only be selected if 20 or so other shield batsmen are injured. It truly is a strange situation for Marsh, and I feel sorry for him, he has just not been blessed with the whatever it is that gives one consistency in performance. His long long list of injuries has surely not helped his career either.

    Still, it is remarkable that in 15 test innings he has 8 scores of 3 & under, and yet averages 32! When he makes double figures, he averages 70! That is a remarkable level of consistency. It is his Boom or Bust nature which warrants his non-selection. It is also what gives me hope that he may yet discover the secret to his own success and enjoy a late career that truly does merit to his talent.

  • on March 11, 2014, 3:36 GMT

    The logic of performance is very simple. Unless there is a major technical or temperamental flaw that precludes him being successful at higher level(international bowlers are far better at exploiting those) usually batsmen has an average which is equal in domestic and international cricket - give or take a couple runs. Same is the case with Marsh.

  • Meety on March 11, 2014, 3:11 GMT

    I really wanted to get into the article - because the whole Marsh thing has grated on me for ages, BUT, I found this to be the most disorganized, disjointed article yet from Mr Ryan. == == == Whilst I was happy Marsh got the ton in SA, he should never of been there in the first place. I would of gone with any one of Hughes, North, White or even Carters. Players that have some sort of bulk runs this season on a solid career platform. This does Marsh no good at all. If he really wanted to be a Test superstar - he'd be putting in the hard yards - no behavioural issues & scoring heaps & heaps of runs! Of those 3 things, he certainly has not done the tast two, & is debatable as to whether he has done the first! It is time the selectors look more closely at other batsmen on the Shield scene.

  • xtrafalgarx on March 11, 2014, 2:55 GMT

    What a cricketer Marsh is. Scores a flawless century against the best team in the world in their own backyard in one game, bags a pair the next now has completed a triple with another duck in the shield!!!!!!! WA throeing away a chance or a first sheild final in years!

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  • xtrafalgarx on March 11, 2014, 2:55 GMT

    What a cricketer Marsh is. Scores a flawless century against the best team in the world in their own backyard in one game, bags a pair the next now has completed a triple with another duck in the shield!!!!!!! WA throeing away a chance or a first sheild final in years!

  • Meety on March 11, 2014, 3:11 GMT

    I really wanted to get into the article - because the whole Marsh thing has grated on me for ages, BUT, I found this to be the most disorganized, disjointed article yet from Mr Ryan. == == == Whilst I was happy Marsh got the ton in SA, he should never of been there in the first place. I would of gone with any one of Hughes, North, White or even Carters. Players that have some sort of bulk runs this season on a solid career platform. This does Marsh no good at all. If he really wanted to be a Test superstar - he'd be putting in the hard yards - no behavioural issues & scoring heaps & heaps of runs! Of those 3 things, he certainly has not done the tast two, & is debatable as to whether he has done the first! It is time the selectors look more closely at other batsmen on the Shield scene.

  • on March 11, 2014, 3:36 GMT

    The logic of performance is very simple. Unless there is a major technical or temperamental flaw that precludes him being successful at higher level(international bowlers are far better at exploiting those) usually batsmen has an average which is equal in domestic and international cricket - give or take a couple runs. Same is the case with Marsh.

  • HatsforBats on March 11, 2014, 4:04 GMT

    I am one of those Marsh fans who wants to see him batting at 3 for Australia. I'm also one of those fans that knows he has never deserved to be selected, should be a long way from being considered, and should probably only be selected if 20 or so other shield batsmen are injured. It truly is a strange situation for Marsh, and I feel sorry for him, he has just not been blessed with the whatever it is that gives one consistency in performance. His long long list of injuries has surely not helped his career either.

    Still, it is remarkable that in 15 test innings he has 8 scores of 3 & under, and yet averages 32! When he makes double figures, he averages 70! That is a remarkable level of consistency. It is his Boom or Bust nature which warrants his non-selection. It is also what gives me hope that he may yet discover the secret to his own success and enjoy a late career that truly does merit to his talent.

  • on March 11, 2014, 4:16 GMT

    Geoff Marsh in my opinion was a vastly overrated player who should never have been picked to play for Australia in the first place; Shaun has far less to live up to than first thought. Geoff's son also at least doesn't seem to have the work ethic of his old man, and I think would perhaps fit into a more mature team, I think Shaun needs to be guided by an 'old hand' more perhaps, and this current team is more like a gang of mates, which I think does him a large disservice.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on March 11, 2014, 4:18 GMT

    Shaun Marsh's the most naturally gifted LH stroke maker in world.Easily 1 of most talented ever-up with Sobers/Pollock or even Lara.His batting in IPL 1 was some of best you'll see.Also sparringly shown his wares @ int. level.Alas talent's not everything.

  • Sir_Francis on March 11, 2014, 4:27 GMT

    Marsh's problems are probably between the ears. Certainly a good technique is important but performances are more important. So selections of people like Doolan & Marsh ahead of Hughes do grate.

    Haven't seen the names Malcolm Dolman & Peter Clifford in years. As I am their age I do vaguely recall them. Clifford, along with Dave Gilbert (for the last wicket), won a Shield 30 years ago.

  • derpherp on March 11, 2014, 4:30 GMT

    He just made a second ball duck playing for WA. I don't think he has ever been good.

  • cricketsubh on March 11, 2014, 4:46 GMT

    i do not think marsh can be a bud test player he canot use his gud from and not constitance in of

  • Favell on March 11, 2014, 5:29 GMT

    An outstanding article Christian, a brave attempt to solve the unsolvable dilemma of Sean Marsh. Like you, I suspect, I have never been impressed with him, because I always suspected his "break out" performances were symptomatic of his inconsistency. Yes, he has occasional days in the sun and always when you least expect them. There seems to be something going on his head - a suspicion on his part that any journalist he talks to wonders why he is there to talk to. I think he has done his dash now. He needs a string of big scores, the weight of runs, not the fluke of runs to maybe force a return - after an injury or retirement, maybe. But you know he isn't the only enigma - Phil Hughes and Khawaja; the 2012 that Cameron White couldn't score a run to save his international career, and probably a great many I've missed. Thanks for the read. What did happen to Dolman?