Sri Lanka v Australia, 2nd Test, Pallekele, 3rd day September 10, 2011

Marsh took playing Test cricket for granted


As Shaun Marsh basked in the glow of a chanceless and near-nerveless century for Australia on Test debut, he admitted that as a precocious teenager he had taken for granted the amount of application required of a Test cricketer.

In 2003, when he was 19, Marsh cracked 119 for Western Australia against Steve Waugh's New South Wales in Newcastle, and assumed that all the garlands and overseas trips of an international career would soon follow without any great obvious effort. Instead it took another eight years and plenty of hard lessons before Marsh could finally debut, and his appreciation was clear in glistening eyes.

"Definitely, there's no doubt about that [I thought it would come easily]," Marsh said. "I probably took it for granted, playing at a young age for WA. I just thought it was going to happen, playing a lot of junior cricket growing up. I didn't know, didn't realise how hard it was to play first-class cricket and I'm glad I did work hard enough and turned it around.

"It's very surreal at the moment. A very proud day, I still can't believe it really, just to be even playing Test cricket, to be given an opportunity and to go there and get a hundred in my first innings was, you dream of that sort of stuff and I'm so happy.

"I was [intent on a long stay], I just wanted to stay out there for as long as I could. They bowled pretty well yesterday and especially early I couldn't get away. I knew if I could just keep sticking to my guns I could hopefully get on top later in the day. It was just an amazing feeling, to be out there playing a Test match for your country is just something I've dreamt of my whole life and I can't believe it really."

Batting at No. 3 in place of the absent Ricky Ponting, Marsh walked out to the crease with a simple objective: bat as long as he could. In the end he was there for seven hours, perhaps the most significant 420 minutes of his cricket life. He spent most of it with his fellow West Australian Michael Hussey, who crafted his own innings of substance with a meticulous 142.

"It was just amazing, I said yesterday when I went out there, I wanted to stay out there for as long as I could," Marsh said. "What you dream of doing is playing Test cricket, and just having that chance was so surreal. I had a lot of fun out there.

"It was tough out there early, they bowled very well, and we had to respect that. I knew if I could just hang in there I could get over the line. I really enjoyed batting with Huss as well, especially today. To be out there with him when we both scored our hundreds was a very special day. He's a good man and he's certainly helped me out a fair bit since I've been playing international cricket."

Every ball of Marsh's innings was worried over by his father Geoff in the stands, and Shaun spoke of how emotional their reunion had been when the younger man was finally out. Tom Moody, the coach who gave Marsh the hard word to be serious about his cricket, was also valued company.

"It was pretty emotional to be honest with you," Marsh said. "[Dad] was very happy I could see and it was very emotional for him and I was trying to hold it back in, out there with Huss … just crazy really. I spoke with Tom before this Test and what Tom's done for me the last three years, to have him and my dad here was pretty special."

Marsh's efforts make him close to a certainty for the third Test in Colombo, despite Ponting's return, but the man himself was not daring to look beyond the next two days, when rain may threaten Australia's push for a series victory.

"It's out of my control," Marsh said. "All I'm worried about is playing this Test, that's all I can control and I'm loving every bit of it. We've got two days left and all I'm focusing on is trying to win this Test.

"I'm not too sure what Pup [Michael Clarke] is going to do, I think he's got a few ideas, whether we bat on for a little longer and try to push for that 270-280 lead or he declares straight away we'll just have to wait and see.

"[The weather] is not great at the moment, but we just have to wait and see, we can't worry about the weather. We've just got to worry about what we can do, and if we go out there and play some good cricket and get ourselves in a winning position that's all we can worry about."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Christopher on September 12, 2011, 1:08 GMT

    @onlinegamer55.I have a high regard for your blogs.I've said previously,nothing of value could be derived by the selectors from the 1st Test.The pitch,which the ICC viewed as sub-standard,made results a lottery.I took positives from Hughes 2nd innings of 28,but am disappointed with his 2nd Test 36.He stated before this tour,he would play his own game,not that dictated by whoever is forcing the changes when he joins this side.He made a good start,then fell back into playing someone elses game.I expected better-either Watson or Hughes to make big hundreds,quickly on a flat wicket against a weak attack with only 40 wickets in 19 games between them,avge- mid 40s.His game is to dominate.This defensive game-S/R 41-42,is ugly and bound to fail.His natural S/R is 61-62.It is mortifying that he has missed one of the easiest opportunities of all time,to score a Test hundred.He's 22.Im a fan,but believe he must break the impasse soon-at least before SA and before criticism gains further traction.

  • Online on September 11, 2011, 12:59 GMT

    @winsome I think it is fair to say that "genuinely out of form" and "in form" are not opposite concepts. A player can be in between. A good example of someone "genuinely out of form" at this point in time is Brad Haddin who is unable to get into double figures. The other batsmen (except for Huss) are not exactly scoring centuries but they are looking good at the crease while they are there. Anyway, I disagree regarding Hughes. I think it was not appropriate to select Hughes in the Ashes as he was out of form in the first class arena at that time. However, in the last 10-15 first class innings, Hughes has scored far too many runs to be dropped any time soon. I think he was unlucky to get out in the first test (and his 28 in the second innings was positive nonetheless). I think he just needs time; Steve Waugh wasn't exactly convincing in the first 30 tests he played; he averaged under 30 with the bat. Hughes has talent; he needs runs but I'm pretty confident he'll get them soon.

  • Lou on September 11, 2011, 11:16 GMT

    onlinegamer, I think the point being made elsewhere is that apart from Huss, it doesn't really look like anyone is in form, least of all Punter and Clarke, though I agree with the basic point, him performing well shouldn't change the eleven unless Punter decided to stay with his family a bit longer. Hughes is going to have to perform at some point though, he has had five matches in a row now with very little return, he's hardly convincing at this level this time round.

  • Tushad on September 11, 2011, 10:10 GMT

    marsh is really talented and he is without doubt the future of australian cricket

  • Christopher on September 11, 2011, 6:42 GMT

    Despite making only 2 first class centuries in 4 years, Marsh was gifted a Test birth,based on his surname. Only the selectors can say why players with between 2 and 5 times as many runs & between 6 and 25 centuries more than Marsh,over the last 4 years, were ignored.His two centuries came a year apart against Sth Aust. on the Adelaide oval against Shield crickets weakest attack on its flattest pitch.His century in this Test was made against possibly the Weakest Test attack in the world,with just 40 wickets between 4 of them in 19 games at an average in the mid 40s and a SR close to 70. With no Matthews to bowl,this hardly qualified as a 'Test"for the Australian batting lineup.Quoting IPL form is pointless.Its a weak,diluted form of cricket that has no relevence to 1st class results. Marsh averages just 11 for Australia in T20I anyway.Even with this 100,he averages just 36 in 2011 for Australia.Id have Ponting over Marsh everytime.At least Ponting can make runs against good bowling.

  • Online on September 11, 2011, 6:34 GMT

    Marcus North deserved to be in the test team more than Marsh two years ago. He was consistently performing at Shield level over a long period of time and he was also more than capable of spinning the ball. However, North did not make the most of his opportunity, unfortunately, although 5 test centuries in 20 tests in nothing to sneeze at. In the long run, first class batting averages do not lie; Marsh did well and take nothing away from him; he made the most of his opportunity and fully deserves to have several more. However, his consistency is yet to be tested in the international (test) arena; it is more than likely that this score of 141 could be followed by a run of meagre scores. I think it is important not to become too excited about Marsh at this point in time. Let him continue to be the No. 1 back-up test batsmen for Australia but let him get his next opportunity when a batsmen in the team is genuinely out of form. I think it is natural for Ponting to take Marsh's place.

  • chandana on September 11, 2011, 4:09 GMT

    Well 8 years is a long wait but then OZ are not known for throwing teenagers into the deep end. Maybe he should have been in the XV at least since 2008 when he showed class in the IPL. People blame IPL a lot for the state of cricket, but in any form of cricket class can outshine everything else. e.g. Lasith Malinga was bowling yorkers with a tennis ball on the beach when he was seen and taken to club cricket; the rest is history! It was obvious SM had classwhen he played in IPL alongside 2 other great leftys - Sangakkara and Youvraj. Had he been given a chance then, maybe the OZ would not have needed Argus review and all. 2 other guys who showed class in IPL Hodge (never selected was he?) and Voges (few limited chances). Many other Oz players who came with big reputations failed to live up to hype (Travis Birt anyone). With a strong structure OZ has enough players; its a matter of selecting the better ones for the long and medium term .

  • Rohanj on September 11, 2011, 3:18 GMT

    Just another mark against the previous selection panel, putting in a very limited player like Marcus North and persisting with his regular failures despite younger, better alternatives waiting overly long for a chance. Lets hope the post Argus review selectors do a much much better job. Well done Swamp Jnr.

  • far on September 11, 2011, 3:07 GMT

    well if he had made that 119 for nsw he would have been playing for Australia much sooner under the old selection panel

  • John on September 11, 2011, 3:03 GMT

    It's great to see Marsh do so well, very few father/sons have played Tests for Aust. However I think the message is clear for Ponting - just like Nasser Hussain did, it is time to gracefully step aside for the good of the team. We are moving on with Khawaja, Lyon, Copeland into a new era.

  • No featured comments at the moment.