Sri Lanka v Australia, 2nd Test, Pallekele September 5, 2011

Shaun Marsh bats for respect

35

Shaun Marsh is aware of the criticisms pointed in his direction as he contemplates a Test debut against Sri Lanka. Unfulfilled talent. Not enough hundreds. Lazy of mind and body. A first-class average of 37. Not enough application.

After Ricky Ponting's departure from the tour party for the second Test opened up a spot in the XI that won so handsomely in Galle, Marsh, 28, faced up to the barbs. He is happy to admit it is only recently he began to take on some of the qualities he needed to be a genuine success.

For the firm hand he needed, Marsh credited the former coach of Sri Lanka and Western Australia, Tom Moody, who gave the young batsman an ultimatum upon his arrival to coach the Warriors in mid-2007. That season Marsh and Luke Pomersbach were suspended for breaking a curfew, but Marsh eventually won his coach over and followed Moody to the IPL, where he topped the run-scorers in the tournament's first edition.

"I started poorly at first-class cricket and that was due to me not working hard enough," Marsh said. "I guess when Tom Moody came on board to WA that was a turning point in my career. I could have gone one way but I wanted to play cricket and I wanted to play for Australia. That's where it all started for me. I really turned things around then.

"I remember when he first came and took the reins as coach, I had a meeting with him and we sort of sat down and he panned out things for me. He pretty much said 'You can stay with me and work hard and do things my way and I'll make you a better cricketer or you can walk out the door'. I owe Tom a great deal for that and I've certainly turned things when he took over.

"[Before that] I was just not training hard enough, not giving cricket 100%. I wanted to play cricket, I wanted to have that as my job and I worked bloody hard to turn things around and I'm happy that I did."

In Marsh's ear too, of course, was his father Geoff Marsh, formerly a fiercely determined Test opener and later Australia's coach. Shaun Marsh grew up among Australian teams and tours, and was at Lord's when Australia won an Ashes Test during the triumphant 1989 tour.

"It made me know what I wanted to do from a young age," Marsh said. "I've always had a cricket bat in my hand. To be around those sort of players was fantastic and going to training with dad, going on tours with him was great. What I did pretty much 24-7 was cricket."

Of course a father's advice is not always readily listened to by impetuous youth, and it has taken time for some of Geoff's words to sink in for Shaun.

"I struggled with it early doors, when I first started playing first-class cricket," Marsh said of the family mantle. "But I've had to just learn to deal with it. In the last five or six years I've always felt that it's been a good thing. I've always had him there for advice.

"Since I've started playing in the Australian team in the last three or four years he's been fantastic. I enjoy what he has to say and I listen to it with both ears.

"To be honest he doesn't say too much. But the things that he does say are pretty crucial. He's always been a big believer in going out there and enjoying your cricket. He always had really good work ethic and he's tried to instil that into me. I've sort of realised that in the past four or five years.

"It takes a lot of hard work to get to this sort of level. I've certainly taken that advice on board. Dad's always taught me what a baggy green is all about. Once I get confirmation I'm in he'll be the first person I call."

Now the prospect of a Test debut is so close, Marsh said he wanted the chance to earn respect by performing at the ultimate level. He knows he will have to be concentrating, and is very aware of the need to convert more of his starts into significant scores. To that end he has spent plenty of time on tour with Ponting, but also Usman Khawaja, a contemporary with a reputation for intelligence and application.

"The last three or four years have been an improvement in first-class cricket. The one thing I'm still lacking is converting starts to big scores," Marsh said. "I feel as though I've improved there definitely but I've got to get those big hundreds.

"I'm just looking forward to that challenge. It's a dream to play Test cricket. Test cricket's the pinnacle. I want the respect from my peers and the cricketing world as a Test cricketer. I'm looking forward to that challenge if I get picked."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on September 7, 2011, 11:51 GMT

    @bodge and scgboy - hyclass has basically said it - in 5 matches on this tour he his averaging a paltry 17, so you can't say he's in any sort of form really. @onlinegamer55 - completely agree re Hughes. Yes he hasn't played too well in his last few games for Australia, but he has one of the best first-class averages in the country and is very young.There's obviously talent there - not many batsmen hit South Africans all around the park too often these days. He needs a proper run like you say. @Bone101 - I'd also like to see the last time we picked bowlers with FC averages of 50 prior to the recent spin shenanigans. Seems like mediocrity was being rewarded under the previous selection panel and hope things change with the Argus findings.

  • hyclass on September 7, 2011, 3:21 GMT

    @bodge.You might be right.Marsh MIGHT be at the top of his game.It just means far less,than for other players.His international experience is IPL,which is irrelevent to Tests.His T20I average for Australia is 11 at a S/R 98.He made 414 runs last season.His big game,in which he scored more than half his runs,was on the notoriously flat Adelaide oval pitch against an anonymous SA attack, George,Cassell,Duval,O'Brien,Christian. Ferguson,Finch and North all made centuries in a high scoring draw. In Dec,Marsh played his last 2 shield games of the season,making 20,5 and 50-75 runs at 25 from 225 balls at a S/R of 33. He also played 3 List A games in Dec, making,0,0 and 52-52 runs at 17. Six innings in Dec 2010 for 127 runs at 21. His ODI this year are: 110,6,1,16,70,2-205 runs at 34. His tour of SL is: 4,0,70,2,12-88 runs at 17. He made 12 in his last 1st class game-his only1st class innings in 2011.His total runs since Dec1,2010, for state and country are 345 at 23.He'd better be way better

  • onlinegamer55 on September 7, 2011, 1:16 GMT

    @Winsome You write "his [Hughes'] record at international level stinks the place up". Sure, he averages 25. However, I wonder what your record would be like if you were 20 years old and were dropped every second test after doing hardly anything wrong. I think he's got a good head on his shoulders, has Phillip Hughes, and he is very confident to bounce back from the selectors' poor decisions. However, his form in recent times has been outstanding and he deserves an extended run in the test side; at least a year, I would say. Look at Steve Waugh or Ricky Ponting; their records at test level were even poorer than Hughes after 10 and Ponting had major drinking problems. You can use statistics to show every player is bad; e.g., when Katich was axed from the contract list, Coverdale argued that the axing was justified since Katich's average is the last six months was 25 but that isn't clearly the full story since the Ashes was all he had played in that six month period (and he was injured)!

  • Scgboy on September 7, 2011, 0:22 GMT

    @Bodge. Right indeed sir.picking on form and with one eye top the future is the hall mark of a good selection.

  • Meety on September 6, 2011, 23:47 GMT

    @MinusZero - yes Ferguson's FC stats are worse than Marsh, the big difference is that Ferguson has proven himself to be far & away better than Marsh at International level (ODIs). BTW - on the topic of someone who killed it in the Shield last year - Cosgrove. @Winsome - in more recent times i.e since 1980, larger plays like Inzi, Boonie, Gooch, Gatting & (cough, cough, splutter) Ranatunga & Tubby Taylor & Fat Cat Ritchie, all scored runs at respectable averages. I would only say weight is an issue in ODIs & T20, otherwise as Cosgrove has great FC statistics it would appear that he is fit enough to carry the extra weight. @bodge - I don't believe they were competing for different positoins as Marsh was going to be selected @#6 until Khawaja outplayed him in the tour match. I believe the selectors (rightly or wrongly), want Marsh in the XI no matter what.

  • bodge on September 6, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    I think this is a good move from the selectors- picking a player who is in form and proven in internationals. In the last Shield season, Marsh averaged 59- I think that's actually pretty handy. Compared to other players mentioned in this post: McDonald 75- no doubt he had an unbelievable season but is competing for a different spot in the team; Cosgrove 53, Ferguson 48, Jacques 33 and Hussey 40. I'm sure any of those players would warrant selection but Marsh is at the top of his game, the right age and has plenty of international experience.

  • Bone101 on September 6, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    I would love to know when Australia last picked a specialist batsmen with a first class average of 37...

  • Winsome on September 6, 2011, 7:43 GMT

    Can't believe that people think Ferguson would be a better choice than Marsh. Neither of them appear up to playing test match innings, but at least Marsh has tons in international cricket. In an ideal world, Cossie would have lost at least 10 kilos but that isn't going to happen so we are stuck with some limited choices for now. I don't expect Marsh to do well, he'll be too nervous but you can only wish him luck. It won't hurt Phil Hughes to have some pressure on him from the other newbies, his record since his tons at international level stinks the place up.

  • Meety on September 6, 2011, 6:51 GMT

    @ dsig3 - throw in Lynn (ave 48), Cosgrove (ave 44), Rogers (av 51), & Warner (ave 50+). I think we already have some batsmen (on top of D Hussey & Ferguson) to make the step up. Add a couple of rising stars in Maddinson, Burns & Beaton, we'll do pretty well.

  • ygkd on September 6, 2011, 6:01 GMT

    Have to agree with hyclass on this one. Everyone he lists - Cosgrove, Hussey.D, Macdonald, Katich, Rogers & Hodge have been permanently shelved or pigeon-holed... all except Hughes who has recently been unshelved. I'd also ask why a few others (not just Ferguson but the likes of Cowan & Jacques, if fit) would not be in the mix? Or even North - at least he can bowl. As for what position Marsh will fill, it shouldn't be numbers one to three, and the team is already chockers of lower-middle-order bats as it is. I, for one, do not see this selection as a rejuvenation, just more short-termism. The spin-cycle looked horribly like throwing enough players in one-by-one till someone stuck. Maybe Lyon will stick (I thought him worth a decent go), but so too is O'Keefe. Pick young with good technique and solid mindset or older with good results. Does this selection geniunely fit either category?

  • on September 7, 2011, 11:51 GMT

    @bodge and scgboy - hyclass has basically said it - in 5 matches on this tour he his averaging a paltry 17, so you can't say he's in any sort of form really. @onlinegamer55 - completely agree re Hughes. Yes he hasn't played too well in his last few games for Australia, but he has one of the best first-class averages in the country and is very young.There's obviously talent there - not many batsmen hit South Africans all around the park too often these days. He needs a proper run like you say. @Bone101 - I'd also like to see the last time we picked bowlers with FC averages of 50 prior to the recent spin shenanigans. Seems like mediocrity was being rewarded under the previous selection panel and hope things change with the Argus findings.

  • hyclass on September 7, 2011, 3:21 GMT

    @bodge.You might be right.Marsh MIGHT be at the top of his game.It just means far less,than for other players.His international experience is IPL,which is irrelevent to Tests.His T20I average for Australia is 11 at a S/R 98.He made 414 runs last season.His big game,in which he scored more than half his runs,was on the notoriously flat Adelaide oval pitch against an anonymous SA attack, George,Cassell,Duval,O'Brien,Christian. Ferguson,Finch and North all made centuries in a high scoring draw. In Dec,Marsh played his last 2 shield games of the season,making 20,5 and 50-75 runs at 25 from 225 balls at a S/R of 33. He also played 3 List A games in Dec, making,0,0 and 52-52 runs at 17. Six innings in Dec 2010 for 127 runs at 21. His ODI this year are: 110,6,1,16,70,2-205 runs at 34. His tour of SL is: 4,0,70,2,12-88 runs at 17. He made 12 in his last 1st class game-his only1st class innings in 2011.His total runs since Dec1,2010, for state and country are 345 at 23.He'd better be way better

  • onlinegamer55 on September 7, 2011, 1:16 GMT

    @Winsome You write "his [Hughes'] record at international level stinks the place up". Sure, he averages 25. However, I wonder what your record would be like if you were 20 years old and were dropped every second test after doing hardly anything wrong. I think he's got a good head on his shoulders, has Phillip Hughes, and he is very confident to bounce back from the selectors' poor decisions. However, his form in recent times has been outstanding and he deserves an extended run in the test side; at least a year, I would say. Look at Steve Waugh or Ricky Ponting; their records at test level were even poorer than Hughes after 10 and Ponting had major drinking problems. You can use statistics to show every player is bad; e.g., when Katich was axed from the contract list, Coverdale argued that the axing was justified since Katich's average is the last six months was 25 but that isn't clearly the full story since the Ashes was all he had played in that six month period (and he was injured)!

  • Scgboy on September 7, 2011, 0:22 GMT

    @Bodge. Right indeed sir.picking on form and with one eye top the future is the hall mark of a good selection.

  • Meety on September 6, 2011, 23:47 GMT

    @MinusZero - yes Ferguson's FC stats are worse than Marsh, the big difference is that Ferguson has proven himself to be far & away better than Marsh at International level (ODIs). BTW - on the topic of someone who killed it in the Shield last year - Cosgrove. @Winsome - in more recent times i.e since 1980, larger plays like Inzi, Boonie, Gooch, Gatting & (cough, cough, splutter) Ranatunga & Tubby Taylor & Fat Cat Ritchie, all scored runs at respectable averages. I would only say weight is an issue in ODIs & T20, otherwise as Cosgrove has great FC statistics it would appear that he is fit enough to carry the extra weight. @bodge - I don't believe they were competing for different positoins as Marsh was going to be selected @#6 until Khawaja outplayed him in the tour match. I believe the selectors (rightly or wrongly), want Marsh in the XI no matter what.

  • bodge on September 6, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    I think this is a good move from the selectors- picking a player who is in form and proven in internationals. In the last Shield season, Marsh averaged 59- I think that's actually pretty handy. Compared to other players mentioned in this post: McDonald 75- no doubt he had an unbelievable season but is competing for a different spot in the team; Cosgrove 53, Ferguson 48, Jacques 33 and Hussey 40. I'm sure any of those players would warrant selection but Marsh is at the top of his game, the right age and has plenty of international experience.

  • Bone101 on September 6, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    I would love to know when Australia last picked a specialist batsmen with a first class average of 37...

  • Winsome on September 6, 2011, 7:43 GMT

    Can't believe that people think Ferguson would be a better choice than Marsh. Neither of them appear up to playing test match innings, but at least Marsh has tons in international cricket. In an ideal world, Cossie would have lost at least 10 kilos but that isn't going to happen so we are stuck with some limited choices for now. I don't expect Marsh to do well, he'll be too nervous but you can only wish him luck. It won't hurt Phil Hughes to have some pressure on him from the other newbies, his record since his tons at international level stinks the place up.

  • Meety on September 6, 2011, 6:51 GMT

    @ dsig3 - throw in Lynn (ave 48), Cosgrove (ave 44), Rogers (av 51), & Warner (ave 50+). I think we already have some batsmen (on top of D Hussey & Ferguson) to make the step up. Add a couple of rising stars in Maddinson, Burns & Beaton, we'll do pretty well.

  • ygkd on September 6, 2011, 6:01 GMT

    Have to agree with hyclass on this one. Everyone he lists - Cosgrove, Hussey.D, Macdonald, Katich, Rogers & Hodge have been permanently shelved or pigeon-holed... all except Hughes who has recently been unshelved. I'd also ask why a few others (not just Ferguson but the likes of Cowan & Jacques, if fit) would not be in the mix? Or even North - at least he can bowl. As for what position Marsh will fill, it shouldn't be numbers one to three, and the team is already chockers of lower-middle-order bats as it is. I, for one, do not see this selection as a rejuvenation, just more short-termism. The spin-cycle looked horribly like throwing enough players in one-by-one till someone stuck. Maybe Lyon will stick (I thought him worth a decent go), but so too is O'Keefe. Pick young with good technique and solid mindset or older with good results. Does this selection geniunely fit either category?

  • smudgeon on September 6, 2011, 5:15 GMT

    Good luck to Shaun Marsh. But, like many other have said, I think he's jumped the queue a little there. Luck always plays a part in every cricketer's career, I just hope Marsh is as determined as he says he is, he'll need to prove it to keep in the selectors' minds. Plenty of younger batsmen, some more talented and just as determined, slogging it out in the domestic circuit who are ready to step up if asked to.

  • on September 6, 2011, 5:12 GMT

    I find it hard to believe Ferguson is not in the squad; very very solid batsman and good temperment.

  • hris on September 6, 2011, 4:29 GMT

    @hyclass. u got a point there. but Dussey is over the hill and his recent form doesnt warrant his inclusion. I mean his international record even in ODI's or T20s is noting to shout about. though i do agree he should have be in the test squad a couple of years ago, the same goes for brad hodge, now its a bit too late for either of them. Ferguson falls in the same boat at Marsh, has shown talent in Odi's but his domestic average is no better. chubby cosgrove has his problems too. considering all that Marsh is not a bad choice. i do believe Mcdonald deserves another go. He could bat at six and ball a bit, would have be useful in slow low pitches in SL. Marsh for me is similar to some Indian players like Yuvraj and Rohit Sharma who show a lot of promise and talent but are inconsistent. I Hope that changes for Marsh starting from Thursday.

  • MinusZero on September 6, 2011, 4:04 GMT

    Comments saying that Ferguson should have been ahead of Marsh are a joke. His F/C average is worse than Marsh's. Surely there is someone better who had a good Shield season last year. Both of them are only about grade level cricketers. One good innings is not an indicator of form or ability.

  • dsig3 on September 6, 2011, 3:17 GMT

    Not sure if you have the right stuff your first class record but I hope you succeed anyway. Truth is, there are not alot of batsmen banging down the door behind Marsh. Ferguson, DHussey? Nice players but all have their faults. Ferguson averages less than Marsh and Huss is 34 and may have missed the boat. Aus cricket needs to improve if this is the best options we have.

  • Nerk on September 6, 2011, 3:07 GMT

    Marsh has matured into a fine batsman. His performances in ODI have been consistant, so he has shown he can at least hold his own against top class bowlers. Whilst some cases can be made for Ferguson and D. Hussey, I think Marsh is a good solid choice. Unlike F and DH, Marsh is not a natural strokeplayer, often relying more on grit and hard graft, a virtue Australia has been lacking in recent years.

  • on September 6, 2011, 2:36 GMT

    I am still flummoxed by the selectors madness. Why is it people like Phil jaques, Cosgrove and fergusson keep getting the boot.

  • hyclass on September 6, 2011, 2:13 GMT

    Lets play,'Pick The Odd One Out'. It will allow people to compare players over the 4 year period that @jonesy2 is naming,from 07-08, to now. Marsh has scored just over 1700 runs, with 3 centuries. Mark Cosgrove,who is 2 years younger, has scored over 3900 runs, with 14 centuries. David Hussey has scored 4092 runs with 12 centuries. Andrew McDonald,despite a run of injuries,has 2845 runs with 9 centuries and 112 wickets. Phillip Hughes debuted in the 07-08 season and has 5048 runs and 16 centuries. Simon Katich has scored 5767 runs with 17 centuries. Chris Rogers has scored 7779 runs with 27 centuries.Brad Hodge,who played only 3 games of the 09-10 season,before retiring from 1st class cricket has over 1900 runs with 5 centuries in the 2 seasons he played during that period. The last 15 innings that Marsh has played for state and country have totalled 345 runs at 23. His S/L tour is 88 runs at 17. His,'stellar' ODI in 2011 are 205 runs at 34 .Perhaps for him,that is stellar.

  • on September 6, 2011, 1:46 GMT

    Wonder what position he will bat ?Open or at six with Kwaja at three

  • on September 6, 2011, 0:46 GMT

    Talk is cheap that's why we can all do it, show people like me that I'm wrong show us how much you wicket means to you and us face 50 balls in your first innings regardless of runs then power forward. D.Hussey would have been a better choice IMO, all the best though i like to be proven wrong.

  • rightarmover on September 6, 2011, 0:25 GMT

    Go FOr iT SOS! show em how we do it at the Fremantle District Cricket Club

  • ygkd on September 5, 2011, 22:40 GMT

    Shaun Marsh is lucky to be considered. Take Andrew Macdonald - he averages more and has made more hundreds. He also bowls well and has decent leadership skills. And he's been dumped for failing? No, not really - only because Shane Watson doesn't bowl much any more, so AMac doesn't seem to fit the team. David Hussey and Calum Ferguson could easily have got the nod instead of Marsh.

  • line.and.length on September 5, 2011, 22:05 GMT

    Marsh is good...but Callum Ferguson should have gotten the chance before him

  • Kaze on September 5, 2011, 21:46 GMT

    Marsh is good but I would love to see Hughes and Warner open in a Test Series, if those two get going they could take apart any attack.

  • on September 5, 2011, 20:21 GMT

    There are other more deserving cricketers with outstanding records such as David Hussey. But for Australia's sake, let's hope he does really well!

  • Vikramaditya100 on September 5, 2011, 16:32 GMT

    He should have been picked long back right after Hayden retired.

  • on September 5, 2011, 15:36 GMT

    C'mon Marsh! I have faith in you. You deserve this place.

  • montys_muse on September 5, 2011, 15:19 GMT

    Goodluck to u, Shaun! would be great to see u in Australia's future set up!

  • jonesy2 on September 5, 2011, 15:04 GMT

    just to shut any marsh critic up once and for all.

    2007/08 he averaged 60

    2008/09 he was injured for most of the season

    2009/10 he averaged 59

    2010/11 he averaged 59

    not to mention his stellar ODI form.

  • on September 5, 2011, 14:28 GMT

    All the best SOS. Hope u became one of the best test batsman....your best fanAll the best SOS. Hope u became one of the best test batsman....your best fan

  • cmonaussiecmon on September 5, 2011, 13:20 GMT

    Go Marsh! Give them the good old WA spirit!

  • Mary_786 on September 5, 2011, 13:04 GMT

    Still think that someone with a first class average of 37 shouldn't get a chance ahead of other state players. Lets see how he handles quality spin bowlers, good luck to him.

  • on September 5, 2011, 12:27 GMT

    OK, so I know that there's people that rate him, but seriously, he only has 6 first class hundreds and an average below 40. And his ODI record is solid but hasn't exactly set the world on fire. I remember before Clarke played test cricket, he didn't have an amazing first class record either, but he was averaging over 40 in ODIs at a strike rate of 90, showing that he could do well at international level. I'm just really unsure as to all the fuss about Marsh, but hopefully for me and for Australia he proves me wrong.

  • on September 5, 2011, 12:14 GMT

    When Marsh struggles he looks like a McGrath bunny... Something really aggravates me watching him bat. if his name wasn't Marsh, i doubt he would be playing A grade....

  • VivGilchrist on September 5, 2011, 12:13 GMT

    Can't wait to read Hyclass comment....

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • VivGilchrist on September 5, 2011, 12:13 GMT

    Can't wait to read Hyclass comment....

  • on September 5, 2011, 12:14 GMT

    When Marsh struggles he looks like a McGrath bunny... Something really aggravates me watching him bat. if his name wasn't Marsh, i doubt he would be playing A grade....

  • on September 5, 2011, 12:27 GMT

    OK, so I know that there's people that rate him, but seriously, he only has 6 first class hundreds and an average below 40. And his ODI record is solid but hasn't exactly set the world on fire. I remember before Clarke played test cricket, he didn't have an amazing first class record either, but he was averaging over 40 in ODIs at a strike rate of 90, showing that he could do well at international level. I'm just really unsure as to all the fuss about Marsh, but hopefully for me and for Australia he proves me wrong.

  • Mary_786 on September 5, 2011, 13:04 GMT

    Still think that someone with a first class average of 37 shouldn't get a chance ahead of other state players. Lets see how he handles quality spin bowlers, good luck to him.

  • cmonaussiecmon on September 5, 2011, 13:20 GMT

    Go Marsh! Give them the good old WA spirit!

  • on September 5, 2011, 14:28 GMT

    All the best SOS. Hope u became one of the best test batsman....your best fanAll the best SOS. Hope u became one of the best test batsman....your best fan

  • jonesy2 on September 5, 2011, 15:04 GMT

    just to shut any marsh critic up once and for all.

    2007/08 he averaged 60

    2008/09 he was injured for most of the season

    2009/10 he averaged 59

    2010/11 he averaged 59

    not to mention his stellar ODI form.

  • montys_muse on September 5, 2011, 15:19 GMT

    Goodluck to u, Shaun! would be great to see u in Australia's future set up!

  • on September 5, 2011, 15:36 GMT

    C'mon Marsh! I have faith in you. You deserve this place.

  • Vikramaditya100 on September 5, 2011, 16:32 GMT

    He should have been picked long back right after Hayden retired.