Marsh confident of turning batting form around
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