Australia in New Zealand 2015-16 February 17, 2016

Marsh confident of turning batting form around

23

Play 03:44
Always working to improve my bowling - Marsh

It was a case of déjà vu for Mitchell Marsh at the Basin Reserve over the past week. Not for the first time this summer, Marsh sat around for hours and hours with his pads on. Not for the first time this summer, when he eventually batted his appearance was brief. Not for the first time this summer his bowling proved more useful than his work at No.6. Such has been the case for Marsh as a Test batsman this summer: wait, wait, wait, oh no.

Not that it has been a major worry for Australia, who have won five of their seven Tests this summer and have drawn the others. The runs have flowed so freely from the top five that Marsh has only once had to come in with the score under 100 and often he has had to wait for the end of a long, long partnership. This summer Adam Voges has 899 runs, David Warner 823, Usman Khawaja 644, Steven Smith 566, Joe Burns 457, and even Shaun Marsh 233. Mitchell Marsh has 109.

That lean patch in Test run-scoring continued in Wellington, where Australia were 5 for 2 in their only innings but recovered thanks to a 126-run stand between Khawaja and Smith, and then a 168-run partnership between Khawaja and Voges. By the time Marsh walked out there were 299 runs on the board, and he was unlucky that the second new ball was hooping for Trent Boult, who had him caught and bowled for a second-ball duck.

"Usman and Vogey and Smithy batted beautifully so I had the pads on for a while," Marsh said. "The frustrating part for me is at this level even if your team is doing well you're judged on your numbers and I understand that. The hardest part for me is we're doing well as a team but at the top level you have to be performing and contributing in a big way to keep your spot.

"It's been a little bit hard but that's international cricket, that's why it's the pinnacle of our game. I'll continue to work hard, my record with the bat is not great over the last 12 months but I've still got great confidence that I can turn it around and start scoring big runs for Australia."

Marsh's best score since the start of the home Test summer is 34, but he found some form against the white-ball in one-day international cricket over the past month. Against India, he scored an unbeaten 102 at the SCG and contributions of 69 not out and 41 against New Zealand had him thinking in the lead-up to the Tests that he was finding his touch.

"I carry that confidence over going into that last Test match and felt great going into it," Marsh said. "I'll continue to keep working hard. I know my game is good enough at this level and it's just a matter of time before I get in and get a big one for the team."

At least Marsh has been contributing with the ball. A tally of 15 wickets at 29.26 makes him Australia's third-leading wicket taker in the Test summer behind Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood, and his pace has at times been up over 140kph. Marsh's bowling has developed almost to the point where Smith can consider him a frontliner, perhaps apart from his consistency, and he picked up 3 for 73 in the second innings in Wellington when Peter Siddle was struggling with back spasms.

"With Sidds going down the other day it's just another example ... I can cover and get those overs out when he's not bowling," Marsh said. "I'm always working with [bowling coach] Craig McDermott to improve and that's probably been the biggest thing for me just the consistency.

"It's all about at certain times when, as the allrounder and as the fourth seamer you can attack but it's also about doing a role for the team and holding up an end and bowling in partnerships with the strike bowlers. For me it's about learning when I can and can't do that and to keep improving."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • DaveOTasmania on February 19, 2016, 0:40 GMT

    It's a bit of an excuse this bit about him coming in with not much to do, I'm surprised CA are letting him get away with it but he has the full backing obviously.

    I do wish they'd contemplate the O'Keefe option permanently. Marsh in my opinion is too good a bowler to be risking his talent by trying to hard to turn him into an all rounder. Meanwhile O'Keefe can bat a bit as well.

    On top of that Nevil seems to me to be more the guy who's in need of some time in the middle. He is a different kettle of fish to the slogger/battler keepers we've had for decades, he looks like he could bat at 4 or 5 and put on huge partnerships.

  • ShekarRamlal86 on February 18, 2016, 23:15 GMT

    Neville has a fc average of over 40 and is a propper batsman....if anyone can extend an innings with the last recognised top 6 batsman it would be him over Mitch Marsh.... conversely, Marsh is better off batting with the tail - taking his risks and clubbing around the ball in search of quick runs. It is to the benefit of both players to have them swap places to Neville at 6 and Marsh at 7!

  • blahblah1234567 on February 18, 2016, 2:12 GMT

    What form i don't recall his the word form in hiis test dictionary with the bat

  • Jayzuz on February 18, 2016, 0:48 GMT

    Ritchie used to say that batting allrounders are a dime a dozen, but bowling allrounders were a far more exotic creature. Guys who can average 35 and bowl military medium can be found in most club cricket sides. Guys who can bowl at 140 plus or actually spin it (not Maxwellesque darts) and also hold the bat are invaluable. So in that respect Marsh is worth persisting with. He is an incredible striker of the ball, as we all know. But he has to stop getting out in dumb ways (he and Stokes should get together). He is good enough to be a dependable batsman. Hopefully he will come good.

  • OneEyedAussie on February 17, 2016, 22:44 GMT

    It wasn't so bad when Johnson and Harris were in the team, but with a weaker tail I think M.Marsh's batting returns will be called into question. Maybe his long-term spot will be 7 until such time as he can prove he can keep his average above 40.

  • Beertjie on February 17, 2016, 19:13 GMT

    I like Nevill at #6 with Marsh at #7 especially on the tour to India when I expect only 3 quicks will likely play on those dust bowls. I worry how he'll go though, especially with his get out of jail leg glances against Ashwin. If only Handscomb could keep wicket and prove his worth he might push Nevill as a proper #6 batsman-keeper. Until then Mitch Marsh's selection like Burns will remain a talking point. What I fear is just looking at numbers and bringing Maxwell in for Marsh. Marsh's worth is as a bowler who can bat, Maxwell's is as a batsmen who can bowl. On the SC his bowling will likely be much less effective than his batting, while Marsh's hard hands won't count for as much as his bowling. That's the problem and the reason why the keeper has to be a genuine #6 while that elusive all-rounder is sought. No amount of building up the "tail" by cherry-picking bowlers (cf last SC tour) who bat (Starc, O'Keefe, Pattinson etc) will disguise the need for Marsh to shape up or ship out.

  • CoverDrive88 on February 17, 2016, 14:44 GMT

    @TinkerTinker - Exactly. Too many people getting carried away with (1) "Potential" (2) Big hitting on flat 1-day tracks (3) Got to have an all-rounder. I don't think we've had a real all-rounder since Keith Miller and mainly have used real batsmen who bowled a bit. They did the same with Steve Waugh but this guy is no Steve Waugh even in his dreams (and Waugh spent a lot of time at 7 & 8 early on). Nevill has a 1st class average of 41 while Marsh is on 30.75 (and if you take out his highest score that drops to 28). We're getting away with it because the flat tracks are allowing the top 5 to score a lot. The selectors need to focus more on performances in first class and not pick for potential (Marsh and Watson before him), X factor (Maxwell), not have real high potential players like Khawaja in and out of the team because he looks too laid back, and not discount older players so easily (Katich).

  • BradmanBestEver on February 17, 2016, 14:29 GMT

    Please, please, etc....no more S Marsh in the team. Yeah I know he made a big test 100 recently but that was against a demoralized cannon-fodder bowling attack.

  • BradmanBestEver on February 17, 2016, 14:27 GMT

    He's confident is he? Well I reckon he's the only one. M Marsh does not have the right batting game for a real cricket No. 6. He is a one-dimensional player - front foot down and hit hard and that is about it

    I could not imagine him playing an innings like Stokes played against us in Perth a while back.

    It's a darn shame cos we need an all rounder and his bowling is good enough

  • tinkertinker on February 17, 2016, 10:47 GMT

    He just isn't a test number 6 simple as that, it's not a drop in form it's just reality.

  • No featured comments at the moment.