Australia in South Africa, 2013-14 February 8, 2014

Fit-again Marsh called up for Watson


Shaun Marsh is to travel to South Africa after all as cover for Shane Watson following the allrounder's withdrawal from the team for the first Test due to a calf strain.

In an episode that might well be entitled 'Sliding Calves' were it ever to be made into a film, Marsh had himself been momentarily tipped out of contention by a calf problem sustained during the ODI series against England, leading to Philip Hughes' call-up in his place.

He recovered swiftly, however, and played a key role in the Perth Scorchers' first Big Bash League title by playing a fluent innings in the final. The national selector John Inverarity said he would now fly to Johannesburg as the tourists prepare for the first Test at Centurion Park, which begins on February 12.

"Shaun has now recovered from injury," Inverarity said, "and the National Selection Panel has selected him to join the squad in South Africa in light of Shane Watson not being available for the first Test with a calf injury."

Marsh may be nursing a slightly sore head following the Scorchers' victory, but he will quickly need to get himself into Test-match mode as the selectors weigh up their options for the first Test at Centurion, a venue that has favoured South Africa heavily since their return to international cricket in 1991.

Alex Doolan seems certain to bat at No. 3 for the tourists, but Marsh, Hughes and Moises Henriques will all be in contention for another spot in the batting order as Inverarity and the coach Darren Lehmann deliberate over the best balance among their available players.

In the aftermath of the BBL final, Marsh had doubted his chances of gaining a call-up to South Africa despite his recovery. "There's a full squad over there now, so more than likely not," he said. "But that's just the way it goes.

"I had to make a decision in the best interests of the team, and at that stage I wasn't fit and we didn't know how long it would be. It was disappointing to miss out, but I guess this (T20 triumph) is a nice reward. It's been a long 13 years for me in WA, and it means a lot."

Little did he know that Watson had by then already suffered the injury that would re-open his path to the airport and the Highveld.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Brenton on February 12, 2014, 1:03 GMT

    This selection panel is a vast improvement over the previous mob. Inverarity is chairman and has the final say. If Marsh plays ahead of Hughes it will be because of Invers. We know Boof regards Hughes highly and encourages him the whole way.

  • Brenton on February 12, 2014, 1:01 GMT

    Every tour needs two spare batsmen. Hughes should have been first, and they also went with Doolan, fair enough. Hughes can play quality fast bowling on any pitch with ease and should be in the top order.

    Doolan is an unknown at this level, he's merely average in FC cricket, and throwing him in at 3 against these bowlers on their soil is a big leap of faith. It's sink or swim for Doolan, I really do hope he can swim, but honestly I think he will need floaties.

    Marsh, well, he seems to spend too much time playing for his club after being dropped from WA for my liking.

  • Ryan on February 10, 2014, 7:12 GMT

    Sillyshortleg, it is unfair to suggest all the failings of the current selction panel are soley Inverarity's fault. For instance while the panel included Agar in the UK Ashes squad Inverarity was not the selctor on duty in the UK (I think it was Marsh) and had little or nothing to do with his actual inclusion in the starting 11.

    While I accept the current selection panel has made mistakes it has, in large part, been a massive improvement on the group it replaced. The selections are better and make more sense (more often and not) and very importantly the communication between players and selectors has improved. Players previously complained loudly (think Katich and others) that they were left completely in the dark by the selectors. Under Ivers, and no doubt Marsh has had a big hand in this too, this is no longer the case. OK, players may not like a decission but at least they know what's going on and that can only help lift the bar accross all three disciplines.

  • Prem on February 9, 2014, 23:19 GMT

    George Bailey should have been in the squad in the first place. No doubt Bailey did not get a big score in the Ashes but the runs will come. Boon, Geoff Marsh etc struggled initially to get Test runs too but they were leadership class and became pillars of the side. Bailey is a good batsman no doubt. Bailey also brings calmness and smiles to the side while Phil Hughes brings panic and frowns. Team results follow the same pattern. Shaun Marsh is a better choice in the team compared to the package Phil Hughes brings.

  • Dummy4 on February 9, 2014, 21:19 GMT

    @Tumbarumbar - spot on assessment of Phillip Hughes' suitability the South African conditions and team.

  • Philip on February 9, 2014, 20:55 GMT

    As a player, Inverarity was not as ordinary as Shaun Marsh has been. In first class games, Inverarity averaged a bit more than Marsh, made tons somewhat more regularly (because of a long career he did make 26) - and bowled well enough to be a proper all-rounder with a batting average considerably higher than that of his sla stuff. He could also catch well and captain. How does Marsh stack up against that?

  • prasad on February 9, 2014, 16:26 GMT

    hilarious aus selections in the past couple of years:s.marsh,quiney,maxwell,henriques,doherty,coulter-nile,m.marsh,wade,doolan,m.arthur(as coach),f.ahmed,u.khwaja(not good enough;also they were a bit harsh on him), raw cookie,selected when he was not yet ready,made a mockery of himself in india),ed cowan,p.forrest,j.hastings and the list goes on and on and on.

  • prasad on February 9, 2014, 16:19 GMT

    welll,i hope marsh gets injured once and for all.also can't u aussies form a group and protest in front of ca to get rid of inverarity.wat on earth is he doing????

  • ESPN on February 9, 2014, 11:27 GMT

    Can't believe that the selectors not only made the wrong decision once, but twice. Shaun Marsh is a terrible choice for this team. I hope Marsh proves everyone wrong and gets some big scores but I doubt he will

  • Alex on February 9, 2014, 9:04 GMT

    Hughes has been treated more unjustly than Schapelle Corby EVER was. Inverarity needs to go. He is not a national selector, he's a national disgrace if he thinks Marsh warrants selection AGAIN for a TEST series based on half day hit and giggle rubbish. He has neither the form, performance or physical capability to be representing our country. Hughes is infinitely more talented and performed than either Doolan or Marsh.

    I won't be staying up to watch this series, that's for sure.

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