Australia in South Africa 2013-14

Shaun Marsh, fortunate son

He has done very little of late to warrant a Test spot for Australia, but he must find a way to repay the enormous, inordinate faith of selectors, coaches and team-mates

Daniel Brettig

January 20, 2014

Comments: 95 | Text size: A | A

Shaun Marsh was trapped lbw for a duck, Australia v India, 4th Test, Adelaide, 3rd day, January 26, 2012
Shaun Marsh has scored only one first-class century since 2011-12 © Getty Images
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Shaun Marsh found a place in Australia's Test squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa having made just 275 first-class runs at 34.37 this summer. He has scored one century.

That hundred, an unbeaten 127 against Victoria at the WACA, was Marsh's first in long-form cricket since being dropped from the team after the 2011-12 series against India. In those matches, Marsh made 17 runs in six innings at an average of 2.83.

Last summer, just after Justin Langer had replaced Mickey Arthur's successor, Lachlan Stevens, as the coach of Western Australia, Marsh made 154 first-class runs at 19, with a highest score of 84. He was out of the WA team for much of the season.

Apart from those players in the Test team this summer, 11 other Australian batsmen have made more first-class runs in 2013-14 than Marsh has compiled in the past two seasons combined. In ascending order, they are Adam Voges, Rob Quiney, Ben Dunk, Travis Head, Ed Cowan, Tom Cooper, Phillip Hughes, Cameron White, Ryan Carters, Chris Lynn and Marcus North.

Marsh made his debut for WA in 2001 while still a teenager and in his second season, he made 119 against a full-strength New South Wales, earning the praise of Steve Waugh and convincing many present in Newcastle that he was destined for greatness. In 11 summers since then, he has made another seven first-class tons.

Marsh has a long history of disciplinary problems in WA. He was among the players suspended during Perth Scorchers' 2012 Champions League campaign. Previously, in 2007, he and state team-mate Luke Pomersbach were suspended after a boozy night. Marsh says: "I had a few distractions away from cricket as well, which you just can't have when you're playing for Australia. I knew I had to change my lifestyle."

Langer is not Marsh's only ally among the powerful and influential in Australian cricket. The national team coach, Darren Lehmann, is an avowed fan of Marsh's talent, having coached him for King's XI Punjab in the IPL as recently as last year. "He's backed me in a fair bit since he's been with the Australian team. He's a fantastic coach and he's been great for Australian cricket," Marsh said.

Numerous senior members of the Australian Test team are convinced that Marsh is the best batsman outside of the XI. Much of this conviction stems from his debut series in Sri Lanka in 2011, when Marsh made 141 on debut in the second Test, in Pallekele, and followed up with more runs in the third match, in Colombo. Brad Haddin is among the believers. "It was nice to be there at the end [of Sunday's ODI] with Brad Haddin," Marsh said. "He's been very good to me as well, whenever I've come back into the team he's been really supportive."

They have also been swayed by Marsh's proficiency in short formats, whether it be his success in the IPL or consistent scoring for Australia whenever chosen in the ODI team. In the domestic limited-overs tournament that commenced the season, Marsh struck 430 runs at 86, with one century and four other scores over 50. His time in the ODI team has been interrupted largely by injuries - chronic hamstring trouble has affected Marsh for much of his career.

After Sri Lanka, Marsh played his only Test match in South Africa, at Newlands in Cape Town. In the first innings on a lively pitch, he reached 44 in the company of Michael Clarke before being trapped lbw. His back then seized up and he made a duck in the second innings before missing the rest of the tour. "In that first Test match that he played, Australia eventually were bowled out for a very small total," John Inverarity, the national selector, said. "But in that first innings, Michael Clarke made a century and Shaun played exceptionally well against that attack."

Since becoming coach of WA, Langer has made demands of Marsh, trying to reshape his mental approach while also making a few technical adjustments. He has also pushed the WA squad hard, not forgiving them for the tendencies towards indiscipline that have led to more than a decade of under-performance. "We haven't won anything in WA for a long period of time and I think you've got to actually earn the right to go out and enjoy yourselves and have fun," Marsh said. "Once you start winning games of cricket and winning finals, then you can start to do that a little bit more."

Marsh is aware of how fortunate he is to be granted yet another chance, having done very little in pure performance terms to warrant it. At the age of 30 he has had more chances than any Australian cricketer should have a right to, and acknowledges that the enormous degree of selection faith he has been given must somehow be repaid. "They've obviously shown a huge amount of faith in me," he said. "It'd be nice to reward them with a few runs in South Africa if I get a chance to play."

Marsh is not entirely sure why he has been thrust back into Test contention once more, and could barely believe it when Inverarity called him. But in addition to Langer, Lehmann, Haddin, Clarke and others, there is the other benefactor to be considered. Shaun Marsh's dad is Geoff "Swampy" Marsh, the former Australia vice-captain and opening batsman, who was on hand to present his son with a Test cap in Sri Lanka in 2011. Whatever Marsh has been, and whatever he may become, he will always be SOS, the son of Swampy.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Booniedoon on (January 24, 2014, 0:02 GMT)

Bailey never looked the part this ashes series, I think it was a good call to leave him out. Marsh must be the luckiest man in test cricket, averages 35 after many years in first class cricket. Compare that with say, Chris Hartley who averages 32 after a similar number of games, with an almost exact number of hundreds and fifties, widely regarded for most of his career as the best gloveman in the country yet never really in contention for a test place because he was viewed as a keeper of the Ian Healy era - i.e. his batting not strong enough. Go figure. But thanks Dad.

Posted by Micky.Panda on (January 23, 2014, 6:47 GMT)

Marsh has not performed well enough to be selected in any format really. In short format his run rate is too slow, in first class his recent average is too low. Then is really a question of his ability to withstand the very best pace bowling. Is that special enough to give him a job in SA other than carrying the drinks? Make him 12th man for the whole series, I would say. Likewise Bailey did not justify test selection either. Rogers did, but took so long to actually pick him. Too many youth obsessed people I reckon. O.K. Sometimes a gamble pays off: Mitchell Johnson. I don't see that being a good short format batsmen makes a good test batsmen. The field is set so differently.

Posted by Chris_P on (January 22, 2014, 20:44 GMT)

@whensdrinks, "Marsh resembles Mark Waugh"? Huh? Waugh's FC career average was 52 compared to Marsh's 35? After 7 Tests, Marsh averages 27, after 7 tests, Waugh averaged 61 & this after both scored centuries on debut. Marsh has never displayed the form to warrant test selection, even when we were battling for players.

Posted by SeptembaSpecialist on (January 22, 2014, 15:28 GMT)

Whens Drinks I think Marsh prefers the pace. He struggles early in his innings with the ball angling across outside off (as does Hughes) but aside from that I think he is a much better player of pace than spin. Gets bogged down easy against spin

Posted by Henry_Crun on (January 22, 2014, 5:56 GMT)

@whensdrinks - Mark Waugh's Test average of 41.81 puts him in the top 10% of Australian top 6 batsman in the last 50 years, something I doubt Marsh or Doolan will ever manage. Can't understand the comparisons between Waugh and Marsh though; Marsh stands on the wrong side of the bat and the wrong side of the continent.....

Posted by whensdrinks on (January 22, 2014, 4:22 GMT)

Hughes weak spot is against spin, he is good against pace. Marsh struggles with pace, even the medium fast Indian pacemen. The Saffers do not have a half decent spinner but a world class pace attack so we select Marsh. Unfathomable selection.

You would think that the selectors would have learnt that T20 and 50 over batsmen with poor FC records do not usually make good test players. Warner is the exception, not the rule. The fact that Marsh resembles M Waugh is no great recommendation. Waugh kept his place because he was from NSW and brother of Steve. No-one played more tests with a worse average and he kept out players with more talent.

Posted by Clyde on (January 22, 2014, 4:15 GMT)

Australia just does not have enough Test-level batsmen, and despite all the learned opinion on the matter. Why go on giving one or two spots in the eleven according to guesswork or whim? It is highly unlikely any of the players SOSed in is going to morph into the real thing one sunny afternoon as an umpire magic-wands a four. A better way to beat opposition totals might be to play one more bowler. The question should be, 'What bowling average equates to what batting average?'

Posted by   on (January 22, 2014, 1:34 GMT)

Marsh! Are you serious? It's not what you know but who you know. This privileged boys club is what killed Aussie cricket. Marsh has done nothing great in ANY form of the game, never steps up when you need him... bah bring on the footy i'm over cricket.

Posted by ygkd on (January 21, 2014, 21:36 GMT)

Why is everyone so surprised by this re-selection? Once upon a time, things were simple. If you made enough runs in grade cricket, then you played Sheffield Shield, and if you made enough runs in that you played Tests. Now there's three formats to consider, so things have gotten blurred. Very, very blurred. Tests may appear to be the main game (as of course they should be). However, they really are the poor relation. It starts young. Talented kids are playing heaps of T20. Short-form strike-rate seems to matter more than anything resembling long-innings potential. Some get to national U19 selection and they play the U19WC one dayers, of course. Then some play FC matches and do alright. Sometimes, but not all that often. In that respect, Shaun Marsh has now been seen to have done enough. The selection landscape has changed. Marsh need not be bogged down in having to actually make boring Sheffield Shield runs. All who think it should be otherwise are, it seems, living on past glories.

Posted by BigFella67 on (January 21, 2014, 12:42 GMT)

So at the same time Marsh was at the Wesley College in Perth, Inverarity was headmaster at the Hale School, a fellow Public Schools Association of WA (read private school) school. Marsh is the most overrated underachiever in Australian cricket but then his father is an ex Australian school coach and player at the same time Lehman was a player. Meanwhile Marsh has scored 4764 runs in FC cricket at an average of 35.02 with 8 hundreds in 154 innings while Hughes has scored 8381 runs in FC cricket with an average of 45.54 with 24 tons in 196 innings. Marsh has a test average of 27.36 and Hughes 32.65 with 3 test centuries (Marsh 1), 2 of them scored in one test against South Africa in SA. Something stinks in Australian cricket. Hughes is the leading run scorer in Shield cricket and has fixed his perceived weaknesses. What has Marsh done? Nothing except disciplinary issues, bad back and poor form. Perhaps the publicity has gone to Lehmann's head?

Posted by dunger.bob on (January 21, 2014, 9:18 GMT)

I'm not on board with the Clarke dumped Bailey because he's a threat band-wagon. That's crazy talk. Think about it people. If Clarke has that much influence and was inclined to be like that, Bailey would not have played against England. Or he would have been dumped half way through because they could have jumped on his relative non-performance after the first or second test as a legitimate excuse. These very boards were full of people saying Bailey ain't a test batsman.

I still haven't figured out the Marsh thing, but I doubt it's because he's a boosom buddy of Clarke or the coach.

Posted by Matt.au on (January 21, 2014, 9:10 GMT)

Posted by Henry_Crun - I don't think Boof had a great deal of say in Marsh's selection.

From the article: Darren Lehmann, is an avowed fan of Marsh's talent, having coached him for King's XI Punjab in the IPL as recently as last year. "He's backed me in a fair bit since he's been with the Australian team.

Posted by Simoc on (January 21, 2014, 9:08 GMT)

Henry-Crun the history you write didn't get a mention because you've invented it. It's not true most obviously to everyone and if he had gone to Hale School , so what. Some try to big note themselves by inventing stories and you're one of these.

Posted by Henry_Crun on (January 21, 2014, 8:14 GMT)

We could be being a bit hard on Boof here. I'm surprised that Inverarity's history with Marsh hasn't had more of a mention here; I believe that he was headmaster at Marsh's school. Talk about the old boys network. I don't think Boof had a great deal of say in Marsh's selection.

Posted by Henry_Crun on (January 21, 2014, 7:56 GMT)

To all those Bailey fans who have somehow managed to spin his non selection into a Clarke conspiracy; what a load of crap. Bailey was dropped because he didn't perform, full stop. One 50 in ten innings would be enough to get a Phil Hughes dropped THREE times; come to think of it, it has.

Posted by RJHB on (January 21, 2014, 6:49 GMT)

@Christopher Mackay Axtens, I take your argument about Clarkes loss for ideas in those situations you described and agree to a point. However what you fail miserably to consider is that in each case the batting was exceptional to the point of career high points for those involved. ANY captain would have struggled in those circumstances without equally exceptional bowlers at his command and that goes for Dhoni and Smith themselves, two of the weaker captains in world cricket who just happen to have so e freakish talents in their sides that make them appear better leaders than they are. Both are technically, temperamentally, and tactically inferior to Clarke as Captains. Neither have anything other than plan A and when that doesn't work they are found out. Witness the Indian tour of Australia in 2011/12 and South Africa in Brisbane Adelaide last summer. Both were utterly hopeless then and would be exposed alot more if they played test series longer than two games!

Posted by   on (January 21, 2014, 5:29 GMT)

Of course Bailey is the ONLY valid threat to Clarke's leadership AND if ever there is 1 current international side likely to show up Clarke as a lost soul when behind the 8-ball in a match situation it is South Africa's Graeme Smith and SOUTH AFRICA'S 2nd innings 550+ batting effort at a rapid scoring rate on the WACA deck in December 2012 was evidence of that. He was just as lost on ideas when MS Dhoni was blazing away with his 200+ innings during the early 2013 test series journey through India. As for the Marsh selection keep watch on another Steyn-Philander-Morkel bid to show up his vulnerability to be set up for the lbw decision. Johnson had better have his 2009 batting form come with him to South Africa because this time around Australia's top & middle order lapses are not going to be retrieved by Haddin on his own as seemed so often the case against a clearly unfocussed England.

Posted by Tova on (January 21, 2014, 4:56 GMT)

I really can't understand this selection of Marsh. Not only are there more deserving players, Marsh himself doesn't even deserve selection. Once again our selectors are sending a very poor message to our players. We harp on about how strong our domestic first class competition is, then don't pick players who perform in it while picking players who don't! Un fathomable

Posted by featurewriter on (January 21, 2014, 4:45 GMT)

Like most other Australian supporters, I'm surprised by Marsh's inclusion in the Test team. I also think they have left Doolan's inclusion too late, as the guy is now out of form in first-ckass cricket. I think he has a lot of potential, but I worry he will be set-up for failure because of his current form. I would have taken Hughes. (Hughes could also acted as the reserve keeper.) The guy is in red-hot form and he has had success in South Africa. I would have also included Chris Lynn or Marcus North. The bowling line-up is solid. While I like Bailey as a cricketer, he was out of his depth in the Test arena. A great short-form player, but he presently lacks the technique and temperament for the longer format.

Posted by   on (January 21, 2014, 4:29 GMT)

Shaun Marsh! Seriously? That's not rewarding Shield form.

Posted by Matt.au on (January 21, 2014, 4:19 GMT)

Posted by xtrafalgarx -- Truth be told, when Marsh is in form, he looks so good that i would rate him the best bat in the country bar Clarke.

Obviously, Marsh is never in form then. I agree with that.

Posted by   on (January 21, 2014, 3:56 GMT)

Marsh has proved that he can play test cricket. I think you have to ignore the series against India - he should never have been selected for tests straight back from an injury, and they kept him in despite clearly not even having a hint of form. He is hitting the ball really well at the moment, so I hope he does well.

I cannot help feeling sorry for Phil Hughes, who I would have picked ahead of Marsh. He was a bit rough to get dropped in the UK after his 80 odd in the first test was one of the best innings by an Australian in the series. He has scored a bag of runs in the Sheild since then, had a very good record in SA, and still they left him out.

Posted by timtamothy on (January 21, 2014, 2:30 GMT)

Such a rubbish player. The stats say it all.

Posted by GACT on (January 21, 2014, 2:06 GMT)

Well @robert romemer, that is one of the more extraordinary conspiracy theories I have seen in a while. While I think Marsh is overrated, your support for George is simply misplaced. Bailey has done well in limited overs cricket but he had an entire ashes series to make a big contribution - it would only have taken one century - and he failed, horribly (and against an England team where only one bowler was consistently firing). He got more consistent opportunities than Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja, and they were shunted up and down the order in their times.

And the captaincy threat? Bailey was then, and remains now, a huge long shot for the Test captaincy. Remember, Watson is still in the team and by all reports he and Clarke do not see eye to eye. Steve Smith is likely our next captain, and its been widely acknowledged, depending on the timing of Clarke's retirement.

Posted by sreni on (January 21, 2014, 1:44 GMT)

North, Khjw, etc. are given plenty of chances, I feel March is the Man Aus looking to fill the No.3 spot, should have been given chance against Eng, where he would have scored lot of runs and would have taken the confidence from that. Starting against SA is going to be tough.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (January 21, 2014, 1:17 GMT)

Shaun Marsh to take on the likes of Steyn, Morkel and Philander ? Give me a BREAK ! Enough said.

Posted by TomTitTot on (January 21, 2014, 1:15 GMT)

I understand Bailey is just not good enough. But I am shocked at Marsh selection. Shone a different light on Boof. His selection of Marsh shows he is just another 'jobs for the mates' kind of guy. This will reflect really badly on him and the other selectors. Clarke as a captain fought Anderson to protect Bailey. I feel he should have done the same here. After all, Bailey is part of his winning team. And he should only allow Bailey to be dropped for another who deserve his place. And that player certainly is not Marsh. However, if they straight replace Bailey with Faulkner, then I am more agreeable as Faulkner will give the Aussie an extra bowling option.

Posted by OneEyedAussie on (January 21, 2014, 1:06 GMT)

I keep thinking about this but the only way I can make sense of it is that the selectors want a LHB to reduce the chance of LBW/bowled as SA has no quality off spinner to trouble the leftie. But even then, why wouldn't you pick Hughes or North, or anyone else really....

Posted by crashdog on (January 21, 2014, 0:32 GMT)

@Robert Roemer, couldn't agree more mate, I think you hit the nail on the head. It's clear this is a political decision as Bailiey is a threat to Clarke's leadership. Why else would you change A WINNING SIDE!! You never change a winning side, why would you do that, it doesn't make any sense. This decision stinks and the politics of Australian cricket gives me the sh*&s. It makes me feel like turning away from the game and as a matter of fact I think I will. I have been a devoted follower of cricket since I was 5 years old, but I no longer feel it's about selecting the best player - it's about a boys club with exclusive membership. I won't be watching the series in South Africa and I couldn't care less if we win or lose. I think I'll stick to AFL.

Posted by   on (January 21, 2014, 0:12 GMT)

@Robert Roemer There is absolutely NO WAY the Clarke feels threatend by Bailey for his position or the captaincy. Clarke is both the best batsman and captain in Test cricket. Bailey though I like him and being a decent ODI player, was well out of his depth against an underperforming england side. Nicking them behind and being caught at mid-wicket in all his games show's how flawed his is at test level. The scandal here is calling up Marsh who couldnt hit a cow's arse with a banjo against a poor Indian attack 2 years ago.

Posted by elvis57 on (January 21, 2014, 0:00 GMT)

Selecting Marsh is an amazingly bad decision. There seems to be no logic in including him before Bailey or a dozen other batsmen. His first class and test averages and his recent form in the long format do not justify selection.

Posted by   on (January 20, 2014, 23:18 GMT)

Absolutely disgusting is all I can say about Marsh's selection Get it right you selectors It is time we selected new selectors. Inverarity was a very average cricketer himself, and he is bringing very average to the table again

Posted by dms1972 on (January 20, 2014, 22:54 GMT)

@BoratShah, if you read the article properly, the author has listed those who have scored more runs this season than Shaun Marsh has scored over the past TWO seasons COMBINED. It's just coincidence that Mitch Marsh happened to be immediately below Voges on the list.

Posted by Cricket_theBestGame on (January 20, 2014, 22:37 GMT)

"Marsh is aware of how fortunate he is to be granted yet another chance, having done very little in pure performance terms to warrant it. At the age of 30 he has had more chances than any Australian cricketer should have a right to, "

need anybody say anymore?? why bailey is dropped after 5 innings..he did enough. scored a 50 and world record runs in an over. this is on debut too.

like another commentor said, looks like bailey was a threat to clarke could be the reason

Posted by   on (January 20, 2014, 21:14 GMT)

marsh is the worst batsman ever to play for australia in tests. if he continues he would have averaged in the teens in the india series his average was like 2-3

Posted by izzidole on (January 20, 2014, 20:51 GMT)

Shaun Marsh's selection in the test squad to tour South Africa no doubt has come as a shock to many cricket fans. I reckon his well controlled and superb innings in the third ODI in Sydney has helped him to clinch a place in the squad at the last minute over Phil Hughes. Though Hughes has not quite lived to his promise in recent times he performed very well with the bat in the last tour to South Africa in 2011 and handled the bowling of Steyn, Morkell and Philander quite well. What Hughes lacks at the moment is some self confidence and I am sure just like the current aussie cricket team under coach Darren Lehman sooner than later he would blossom into a fine cricketer. Marsh is injury prone and sometimes not quite consistent in form and has never lasted a complete test or limited overs series in the team so far and I reckon Phil Hughes will be on his way to South Africa very soon.

Posted by   on (January 20, 2014, 17:51 GMT)

This is insane, absolutely ridiculous. George Bailey should have been given more of a chance, he is a class act. But as always, anyone remotely threatening Clarke's captaincy position suddenly gets demoted, dropped, or outright sent packing for not doing homework and once again, it looks like a quality person and potential captain has been swapped for a loose cannon who is NOT EVEN PERFORMING! It's just ludicrous, it really is. It's Clarke's gang, Clarke's Army, whatever you want to call it, and it's wrong.

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (January 20, 2014, 16:11 GMT)

A bloke averaging 35 in FC cricket, only scoring 8 centuries in 13 seasons is never going to be a successful test batsman.

Style doesn't win test matches, scoring runs, guts and mental toughness do and Marsh is lacking in all 3.

I'm sorry Boof and Invers. This experiment is doomed to fail and takes the public back to the unpopular days of the 2009-2011 selection panel.

Posted by Beertjie on (January 20, 2014, 16:07 GMT)

Well no one picks himself, so I wish Marsh well. The best I can say in favour of his selection is that if he doesn't prove his many doubters right, he'll probably go to the UAE to show off his wares against the spin of Pakistan. If he fails who goes there? Ferguson? Come on NSP take a punt on young talent at least by giving those like Lynn a chance to blend in with the big boys. If you don't, it'll be back to square one (2007) when Clarke, Rogers, Watson, Haddin are all simultaneously retired within a season or two. To think they actually get paid for this!

Posted by ballonbat on (January 20, 2014, 16:05 GMT)

Can you imagine the amount of pressure the selectors have put on Marsh already - weeks before the tour even starts? If he actually gets to play the pressure to deliver the goods will be immense, since he is fully aware most of the public (and he himself) are surprised, even shocked by his selection. If he then goes and makes runs I'll be very, very impressed. I doubt it though.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (January 20, 2014, 15:58 GMT)

@ballonbat: Like i said, Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick. Even Collingwood, all had pretty good test careers from modest FC careers. MV and MT in particular were picked while averaging high 20's in FC cricket then improved as they went on. It is possible, but very rare.

Posted by BoratShah on (January 20, 2014, 15:27 GMT)

In the list of run-scorers that has been linked in the article, you can see that the author has listed only guys who have scored more than Mitchell Marsh, there are several others who have scored more than Shaun Marsh!

Posted by ballonbat on (January 20, 2014, 15:06 GMT)

Lots of people mentioning stats here. FC performances and stats are how you come to the selectors' notice. Then you move up to A team tours and if you continue to perform you get picked for the Test squad and then the team, you hope. But stats can only be a guide. Take Mike Hussey, Mark Ramprakash and Graeme Hick. They all made MOUNTAINS of FC runs, had fantastic averages, scored 100s of tons (literally!) and were shoe-ins for their national sides. But only one of them starred at Test level (when he finally got picked). The point is you can't tell until you've tried them but SURELY your starting point at least is the player's FC record. Marsh fails miserably when you look at his record. Then there's his Test record ... He's already been given a go and found wanting. Yes, we all enjoy seeing a stylist at the wicket - that's what the real joy of the game is - but style needs to come with substance. Can anyone name a player with as feeble a FC record as Marsh's who became a Test star?

Posted by   on (January 20, 2014, 14:31 GMT)

It shows Australia goes by name, by pedigree not by talent or their record. I believe Shaun Marsh will be a failure because he knows too well that there are better players out there than him.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (January 20, 2014, 14:12 GMT)

@dunger.bob - Actually, It's quite hard to be positive about this situation having thought about it. It's such a selectorial blunder and the ultimate slap in the face to the consistent performers such as North, Hughes, Klinger etc.

It might work because Shaun is a very talented player but Boof has really, really put his reputation on the line here. The idea of a coach pushing and barging people behind the scenes to get his favourites in the team just doesn't bode well. He also pushed for Mcdermott (Worked out fine) but things like this can snowball, i hope he knows what he is doing.

Posted by   on (January 20, 2014, 14:11 GMT)

Let's face it, Marsh is only in this squad because his old man is an ex-player. Nepotism at its finest. If I had a choice I'd choice Marcus North who has been OUT-STANDING this season and is also handy with the ball.

Posted by   on (January 20, 2014, 13:54 GMT)

Though I am convinced this is good for Australia, I can only think that Chris Rogers who scored 2 magnificent 100s recently is being put on notice purely because of his age.

Posted by ScottStevo on (January 20, 2014, 13:49 GMT)

Whereas it's impossible to disagree that Marsh hasn't done enough to warrant selection and plenty of others more deserving, it's also impossible to disagree that he hasn't got the talent. Leaving stats aside momentarily, Marsh has a sound, classical technique and an elegance to his strokeplay that would appear destined for succes, especially in the longer format of the game. I won't lie and pretend I'm not a fan of the bloke for these reasons and had hoped he would succeed, not only in ODI and T20, but more so in the test arena. His test career started with a bang and ended in a whimper where he was unable to get his head in gear and conquer the pressure situation he'd got himself into. In this regard, I'm hoping Lehmann can be his guide. Now, with that said, he shouldn't be anywhere near the plane as the stats don't lie and he just hasn't delivered on his awesome potential. For this, there is no defense as stat wise, he's just too far behind. How C Ferguson didn't replace Bailey - NFI

Posted by Harlequin. on (January 20, 2014, 13:13 GMT)

First they were rubbish, then they bragged about having the best bowling attack in the world because they skittled an average opposition, and then they started to ignore the results from their domestic competition.

That was England not so long ago, and now look where they are; we still aren't sure if they have reached the bottom of their depth-plumbing. Australia seem to be following in the footsteps quite closely...

Posted by Donian on (January 20, 2014, 13:11 GMT)

Have to agree here - Marsh extremely lucky to be selected.

Posted by GD66 on (January 20, 2014, 13:07 GMT)

Unbelievable. Maybe the selectors can produce one more rabbit from the hat...I used to agree with Ben Johnston that good Shield form should result in a test callup, until the Quiney incident, and that cured me...

Posted by C.Gull on (January 20, 2014, 13:07 GMT)

This article could only have been written by Brettig. Bravo.

Posted by Rajeshj on (January 20, 2014, 12:38 GMT)

There you go.. Boof has started to muddle the team to his fancies.. He did this with Kings XI Punjab in IPL and that's why they have been the lowly-ranked team for so many years.. I think Boof/Clarke's successes as coach and captain respectively, is purely dependent on the purple patch endured by Mitchell Johnson/Haddin... By the way, where is Ashton Agar??.. I think Bailey would endure the same fate, because I don't think Boof or Pup likes him much.. If Johnson/Haddin lose their form in SA, I think the Aussies would be surely pummeled...

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (January 20, 2014, 12:07 GMT)

Hughes should be there, no question. He has a reason to be ticked off, again. But I'm sure he will handle himself well, by scoring more centuries!! He has scored more centuries this season than Marsh has in the last 6 years!!

Posted by Matt.au on (January 20, 2014, 11:59 GMT)

I was glad to read this article and be reminded why I thought Marshs' selection was just wrong. It's not just something I made up against Marsh because I didn't like the colour of his shoes or something. My reasoning is there, in black and white, for all to see.

Regardless of how Marsh goes in Sth Africa - I hope he scores big as I want Australia to win - the brutal truth is he doesn't deserve selection and J. Inverarity should be ashamed of himself.

While everything is rosey for Boof now, if it comes to light he is throwing his weight behind getting his mates selected rather than those that actually deserve it - and this has that feel to it - look out Boof.

Public seniment can change very quickly.

Posted by Clavers on (January 20, 2014, 11:53 GMT)

You're joking!

Phil Hughes has scored more centuries in the past five minutes than Marsh has in the past two years.

Posted by   on (January 20, 2014, 11:25 GMT)

Marsh's (and to a lesser extent Doolan's) selection completely discredits the Sheffield Shield competition and ignores the conditions that Australia will face in South Africa. A test batsmen must be able to play long innings on seaming pitches against quality swing bowlers and neither Marsh or Doolan have been able to match many players already mentioned over the last 2 seasons. Statistics can often be made to tell the story you want, but John Inverarity's reference to an innings of 44 against South Africa 2 years ago is scraping the barrel - at least it allowed him to conveniently avoid bringing up Marsh's first class record (which may have been met with chuckles from the press conference floor)

Posted by No_1_again on (January 20, 2014, 11:18 GMT)

Even though, I don't agree with his selection he is better than Voges and White. I trust selection committee's decision. On the way to number one again. Bring it on the Saffas.

Posted by mamboman on (January 20, 2014, 11:17 GMT)

Ed Cowans mist have really ticked somebody off!

Posted by VivGilchrist on (January 20, 2014, 11:05 GMT)

Great article. Scoring runs in ODIs is a little different to batting in Test cricket with 3 slips and a gully, no field restrictions, or bowlers with capped overs. Marsh Test record is poor, his FC record is poor. His selection is poor. Interesting to note that his dad only averaged 33 in Tests. Someone loves them.

Posted by Rant0r on (January 20, 2014, 10:36 GMT)

I've never been a fan of Marsh, his footwork is poor, he plays around his pad a lot, and despite years of intense coaching from his Dad amongst other influential CA people, the penny still hasn't dropped. A few T20 and OD innings of class shouldn't pencil you into a test berth, George Bailey is proof of that.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (January 20, 2014, 10:35 GMT)

@Terry_2k6: Wow? What's he done? He may not be deserved to be picked but even he said he was surprised, he hasn't done anything wrong yet you have a personal issue against him. Calm down mate, goodness me.

Posted by   on (January 20, 2014, 10:34 GMT)

I dont agree with Bretting here..Marsh is one of the most stylish and confident left handers going around the world at the moment..And he deserves one more chance at the highest level..bcoz there are still chances that he can make it big at the international stage and he is already showing signs of that in current Eng series..

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (January 20, 2014, 9:59 GMT)

@Meety: You sure bud? He averages over 40 with 3 ODI centuries. He is a certain starter in ODI's in my mind.

Posted by dunger.bob on (January 20, 2014, 9:56 GMT)

xtrafalgarx : "If Inverarity, Lehmann, Clarke, Langer believe that this guy is the next best batsman outside of the XI then they should give him a go, however , their reputations hinge on his performances." .. Exactly what I was thinking. I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one for the 3 tests but they have to realise their credibility rides on it. It's either a stupid or inspired choice so now that it's done let's see if they've had a brain explosion or not.

On his good days Marsh reminds me of Mark Waugh. Not so much the style, it's more the easy way he knocks the ball around. Very pleasing to the eye. Unfortunately though, he's no Mark Waugh in every other way. ... No, I've cracked, I can't pretend to like this, can someone PLEASE tell me what the hell they think they're doing picking Marsh.

Posted by SoorajPA on (January 20, 2014, 9:40 GMT)

I think the selection of Shaun Marsh is a direct result of Shane Watson's Injury scare. If Watson cannot play then only Marsh will play.

Posted by Bockee on (January 20, 2014, 9:37 GMT)

This is the worst selection decision since the crapacadabra era. Marsh has maybe a handful of knocks that might justify selection on class and a long, long history of mediocrity. He's done nothing to get picked on form. Off the top of my head, I can think of 10 guys that deserve to be there in front of him - Silk, Hughes, White, North, Cowan, Lynn, Forrest, Burns, Maddinson, Pommersbach, the list is endless.

What kind of message does this send? One that goes against all the good work that Boof has done so far. Poor.

Posted by terry_2k6 on (January 20, 2014, 9:28 GMT)

8 hundreds in 12-13 years of first class cricket and still picked for the test side. It must be nice to picked purely because your father played cricket 30 odd years ago. Even if he fails in South Africa, no doubt he'll get a couple more chance down the line. I hope Steyn, Morkel, Philander give him hell!! 17 runs against an Indian team thumped 4-0 should be enough to put paid to any Test career he had. A couple of OD scores against a near pathetic English side should not be enough for him to be selected for the South African series, but hey, just makes the job for South Africa 1 wicket easier.

Posted by Meety on (January 20, 2014, 9:18 GMT)

Very frustrating. He shouldn't of been in the ODI side ahead of Voges, let alone in the Test squad ahead of Hughes. This will end badly.

Posted by Winsome on (January 20, 2014, 9:16 GMT)

Daft selection. Shaun Marsh is probably shocked that he's been picked - he must know he shouldn't be anywhere near the test team. Hopefully Doolan will be in the line-up and not Marsh. North would have been a better selection if you have to have an unreliable Sandgroper, you can get useful overs out of him and he's far, far more capable of scoring tons instead of gorgeous 20s/30s.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 20, 2014, 9:14 GMT)

KeithMillersHair; Excellent post but you also left out Does he have the discipline to abide by team rules and add toteam harmony - Again his track record says no.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (January 20, 2014, 9:09 GMT)

Selection is a skill in itself and it's not as simple as you might think it is. If Inverarity, Lehmann, Clarke, Langer believe that this guy is the next best batsman outside of the XI then they should give him a go, however , their reputations hinge on his performances.

Truth be told, when Marsh is in form, he looks so good that i would rate him the best bat in the country bar Clarke. Though you always feel that there is a rough trot not too far in the distance with Marsh.

I think there are many 35+ averagers in FC cricket that would make fine test cricketers, because you have to remember that not every good batsman STARTS of well. Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick i think were picked while averaging in the high twenties in FC cricket and went on to have good test careers. Conversely, someone like Hughes has a record as good as anyone in FC cricket but hasn't been able to break through as of yet.

There's a bit more to selection than you would think.

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (January 20, 2014, 8:56 GMT)

Probably last chance saloon for the guy....am sure there myst be youngsters knocking on the doors

Posted by   on (January 20, 2014, 8:31 GMT)

Make him earn it. Sends a poor message to other players.

Posted by muzika_tchaikovskogo on (January 20, 2014, 8:30 GMT)

As an outsider, the selection of Marsh is indeed puzzling. A batsman who was tormented by the Indian attack indeed has serious problems (I'm Indian by the way). Even if it's a hunch that the selectors have got, I fail to see the logic behind investing in a 30 year old. Surely, there must be more youthful contenders out there.

Posted by KeithMillersHair on (January 20, 2014, 8:25 GMT)

Selection is about more than just statistics. You have to look at where and when a player has performed. You have to look at their character and leadership. You have to look at their injury history. You have to weigh their age vs the experience they bring to the team. You have to weigh how their performance has been shaped by match situation - have they performed under pressure, or just when their team was coasting. You have to select a player based on all of these factors. On every one of these factors, Marsh has been found wanting. He is not just a poor selection based on statistics, he is a poor selection on whatever criteria you can name. Australia has been struggling to produce decent batsmen in recent years, but finally this seems to be improving, with a number of strong batting performances in the Shield so far this season. Statistically Marsh is 34th on this list in terms of runs scored. Many of those above him would bring more to the team across the selection criteria.

Posted by wanatawu on (January 20, 2014, 8:25 GMT)

Great pick by the Ozzies, he always look likea class batsman.

Posted by CantFindMyScreenName on (January 20, 2014, 8:14 GMT)

I could understand this selection if he was 25 or 26. If you want an old guy in form, pick North. If you want a younger guy, Hughes.

Marsh's 40 odd gets mentioned as a reason to pick him. No mention of Hughes smashing SA all over the park when he began Test cricket.

The selection of Marsh and Doolan ridicule Lehmanns words that players will be picked on form.

A couple of half decent ODIs against a demoralised England is now apparently better form for Test cricket than scoring shed loads of Sheffield Shield runs.

Posted by ballonbat on (January 20, 2014, 8:06 GMT)

@ darrypars. The Proteas would love to have Marsh in the Australian side if he's going to play the Rohit Sharma role. In the series in SA Sharma scored: 14 and 6, and 0 and 25. Ave: 11.5. Great! We look forward to having you, Shaun.

Posted by ballonbat on (January 20, 2014, 7:51 GMT)

Thank you, oh thank you, Australian selectors!

Love

Dale, Vern, Morne and the boys

p.s. good to see that we aren't the only ones hampered by selectorial problems: quotas in our case and nepotism in yours.

Posted by Unifex on (January 20, 2014, 7:49 GMT)

As always, Marsh is a protected species. It must be nice ot be the son of a bloke who's as "in" as you can get in Australian cricket!

Posted by   on (January 20, 2014, 7:40 GMT)

This article sums it up as it needs to be told. On what basis does Shaun Marsh make the South Africa tour other than a hunch when so many others named in earlier comments are delivering the kind of run scoring form that thoroughly deserves selection. Has the George Bailey experiment not taught the NSP anything about limited overs form as a basis for test selection? Alex Doolan's first class form is also well below the benchmark set by others.

There is already much justifiable commentry that limited overs cricket is corrupting the talent pool of quality batsmen who can play a long innings (aka a test match innings). Now we are seeing significant first-class form being overlooked for limited overs form with flat pitches and balls that don't swing. What's the message?

Posted by Rooboy on (January 20, 2014, 7:20 GMT)

@nthuq - I like your comment 'He bats as though he's being held at gunpoint when out of form ...', that actually made me laugh out loud, cheers. Quizzical selection for sure, but for some reason I can't put my finger on, I've felt that Marsh is more than a sum of his parts so to speak. His record suggests he doesn't belong at test level, but his first test innings was that of a man who clearly does belong. Oh well time will tell whether the selectors are dunces, again, or geniuses.

Posted by InfiniteWhite on (January 20, 2014, 7:11 GMT)

What a disgrace! And you thought that nepotism only happens in the third world countries. ACCC should be involved. Not fair for the real Shield high achievers.

Posted by Cantbowlcantbat on (January 20, 2014, 7:10 GMT)

What is so puzzling about this selection decision is that the Oz batting lineup is so fragile. It will be even more so with players like Marsh, who based on previous performances, is unlikely to succeed particularly against Steyn, Philander & co. I don't think Bailey is a Test quality, but Marsh isn't either. Players with Shield averages in the 30s will struggle at Test level. Oz needs to pick form players from the Shield ranks- the standout being Hughes- not to mention his good form in SA. I fear the recent Ashes series was only a brief respite from the insane chaos that characterized Oz Test selection prior to that.

Posted by darrypars on (January 20, 2014, 6:50 GMT)

what i have seen of him convinces me that he needs one last chance.. selection is not only about numbers but often about gut feel and instinct.. australia need to give this not so young man a longer rope to become their rohit sharma...

Posted by nthuq on (January 20, 2014, 6:39 GMT)

As nice it is to watch Marsh in full flow, he simply lacks the consistency to do well, even in the first class arena. He bats as though he's being held at gunpoint when out of form, as seen in his last few test appearances in the India series.

Posted by drinks.break on (January 20, 2014, 6:32 GMT)

No, nothing strange in this selection ... Marsh is a replacement for George Bailey after all, another one chosen on the basis of his ODI achievements.

Maybe the selectors think that if they try enough ODI guns, they'll eventually find one who can play test cricket as well. It seems the tried and tested method of using FC records is no longer in fashion.

Posted by Naren on (January 20, 2014, 6:19 GMT)

Shaun has always looked great against International attacks. He is a proven batsman and a great gutsy selection. He was out of the side only due to injury. I wish he plays ahead of Doolan. Hughes is having a hard time at the Big Bash.

Posted by   on (January 20, 2014, 6:14 GMT)

Well this will not help a fairly fragile Aussie batting lineup. Marsh will become Philanders bunny on this tour.

Posted by Chris_P on (January 20, 2014, 6:08 GMT)

@Shaggy076. Well said, mate. This is an absolute disgrace. He was dropped from the Shield side last year & has done nothing to earn even mild consideration. He has limited talent, he has no long tern form & current form is below average. Totally speechless & hugely disappointed.

Posted by   on (January 20, 2014, 6:07 GMT)

It pays to be the son of a former player, oh doesn't it just. No south Aussies as usual, Lyon has moved back to NSW and Hughes is more deserving of this spot than Marsh or Doolan. We have seen what maturity in players in tests can bring, for me the two batsmen picked should've been Cameron White and Marcus North. Look at their form this season in the long form. Clear and obvious picks. Regardless, Faulkner will bat at 7 and Watson will stay at 3 and not bowl. So they wouldn't get a game anyway.

Posted by ShutTheGate on (January 20, 2014, 6:04 GMT)

Some would have you believe that you don't need selectors. You just look to see who the top run scorers are in the shield and select the top 6.

Common, it's not that simple.

Posted by Matt_in_SG on (January 20, 2014, 6:04 GMT)

Just a little disquieted by this, particularly on the back of the selection of McDermott the younger for the England Tour match last week.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 20, 2014, 5:43 GMT)

Cricket is a statistical game and nothing more needs to be said about Marsh selection than this article. Simple there are many far more deserving players in the Australian Sheffield shield scene that have been snubbed. All these players are trying to make a living from cricket, and represent there country yet Marsh gets thrown this opportunity of a whim is an absolute disgrace and someone needs to be held accountable.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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