South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Cape Town, 2nd day November 10, 2011

Marsh in doubt for second Test

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Michael Clarke has conceded that Shaun Marsh is in doubt for the second Test in Johannesburg after he struggled with a stiff back on the first two days in Cape Town. Marsh did not field on the second day and batted at No.10, clearly hampered as he walked to the crease and faced his only two deliveries, including a delivery that kept low and trapped him lbw.

The problem arose on Wednesday during the latter stages of Marsh's first-innings 44, and the issue worsened on Thursday. The Wanderers Test starts in a week and Clarke, as a man who has suffered serious back problems himself over the years, said the most important thing was to ensure Marsh was not forced to play if he was not quite right.

"I'm a little nervous, no doubt," Clarke said after play on Thursday. "I know the feeling when you do your back, it's always a couple of days of mending time and treatment to try and get it right. I'm confident if he does get it right in this period before the second Test then he'll be fine to play.

"But I need to trust the judgment of Alex Kountouris, our physio, who has had a lot of experience on backs, unfortunately. Shaun knows his body pretty well. He's a big player for us, he's in all three forms of the game. He's a wonderful guy with a lot of talent, so I want to make sure we make the right decision."

Should Marsh be unavailable for the Johannesburg Test, it would mean a call-up for Usman Khawaja, the back-up batsman in the squad. While Khawaja is a fine prospect, Marsh has been one of the shining lights for Australia during their past three Tests.

He scored a century on debut in Pallekele in September and made 81 in his second Test, before starting his South African trip with a pair of half-centuries in the tour match in Potchefstroom last week. In the first innings in Cape Town, he was the only one of Australia's specialist batsmen who showed the centurion Clarke any support.

Marsh has had ongoing back issues throughout his career. He was ruled out of the third ODI against Sri Lanka last November and the Australia A game against England that followed due to back trouble, and a similar problem also ruled him out of the tour of New Zealand early last year.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on November 13, 2011, 1:11 GMT

    Marsh is an injury concern - he must be replaced by Khawaja.

  • s.sreekant on November 12, 2011, 7:30 GMT

    its no use having this guy in the team if he gets injured so regularly as it will disturb the team structure and balance if we keep changing the team for every test in a series

  • crickprof on November 11, 2011, 20:31 GMT

    Usman Khawja is much better player than marsh, usman khawja scored 37 against England when whole Australian batting got failed, if the CA has made debuet of Marsh against England he would never had scored a century, to score a century against SL is much much easier than to score runs against England...........

  • bindu on November 11, 2011, 10:31 GMT

    the fitness levels also speak about the character of a person.......... Sachin playing since last 22 yrs and still going on speaks he is not bad cricketer when compared to the current lot of players..... 3 tests and a guy is down with injury and he is the one for a permanent role at no.3 position....... crazyyyyy

  • satish619chandar on November 11, 2011, 6:56 GMT

    Marsh and Hussey were the only ones in form from SL tour consistently.. Good thing for Aussies is they got Khawaja as readymade replacement for that slot.. Bad thing is, he is the only reserve batter available!! They have 2 weaklinks in batting now.. Hughes n Punter(Sorry to say).. They would wish atleast one of them to come good next match..

  • RandyOZ on November 11, 2011, 6:02 GMT

    @Vic Nicholas, well said, add to the fact we were against the best attack in the world and they were against one of the worst. If Brad haddin doesn't not get dropped ASAP I will not be watching this summer. How are Hilditch selections still being implemented?

  • landl47 on November 11, 2011, 5:39 GMT

    The problem is for Aus that Marsh was one of the few batsmen in form. Watson has 94 in 7 innings in the SL/SA tests, SA have got Hughes worked out just as England did and Ponting is a walking wicket- 12 innings since his last test 50. Haddin is looking dreadful, Johnson is hit and miss (mostly miss) and the tail is the tail. Marsh, Clarke and Hussey have been the guys making runs and when they fail, Aus is up against it. The reserves are Khawaja, with 3 tests and a highest score of 37, and Warner, who hasn't played a test and only 10 first-class games. I see the call-ups being suggested are Katich, age 36, and Jaques, age 32 and out of the test side for 3 years. Aus really has a lack of depth and it's showing. @Vic Nicholas: You're right, but since that collapse almost 3 years ago England hasn't lost a series and their record is W18, D9, L4. This is the third time in just over a year Aus has been bowled out for under 100, so their problem goes much deeper than England's.

  • featurewriter on November 11, 2011, 5:28 GMT

    I think Warner has proven that he is an incredible talent. I think it would be dangerous for Australian cricket to leave him sitting on the sidelines while he's in game-changing form. I think our current lineup should look like this: Warner, Marsh, Clarke, Hussey, Watson, Butterworth, Paine, Johnson, Harris, Cummins, Hauritz. Warner gives us a hint of Hayden and Sehwag; Marsh provides the gritty Langer-like balance; Clarke deserves to be batting at first-drop; Hussey is a great middle-order anchor; Watson needs more freedom in his batting, and his bowling is brilliant at the moment; Butterworth is a more than capable lower order bat and an outstanding seamer; Paine is a better gloveman and a better bat than Haddin at the moment (though his mate Wade is lurking in the shadows); I'd have Johnson in my starting 11 every time; Harris is an Andy Bichel-type loyal grunt who gets results; Cummins is a terror on the turf; and Hauritz is the best off-spinner at Test level in this country.

  • sudhar.n87 on November 11, 2011, 3:38 GMT

    Besides Clarke, Marsh was the only top order batsman to show some sort of application to the innings. Hope he gets fit on time for the second test. Get well soon Marsh.

  • Skott on November 11, 2011, 3:30 GMT

    jaques was in before Katich but got injured and spent about a year trying to get back to his best. Too late ofr him now. And Rogers. We have to stick with Hughes for a while at least-- give himn a chance to find his feet.

    And @cindian. You want to dump Clarke as captain? He's doing a good job so far. Who else would you suggest? Hussey? And then who gets the job in a year when Hussey finally retires?

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