Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd Test, Colombo, 1st day

Another first-ball wicket and the milestone that wasn't

ESPNcricinfo presents the Plays of the Day from the first day of the third Test between Sri Lanka and Australia, in Colombo

Daniel Brettig in Colombo

September 16, 2011

Comments: 3 | Text size: A | A

Shaun Marsh is bowled, Sri Lanka v Australia, 3rd Test, SSC, Colombo, 1st day, September 16, 2011
Shaun Marsh could not complete his second hundred in consecutive innings © AFP
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Another first-ball wicket
Shaminda Eranga became the third bowler in this series, after Trent Copeland and Nathan Lyon, to take a wicket in his first over as a Test match bowler. Like Lyon, Eranga did it with his very first ball, and like Lyon he dismissed a batsman of quality, Shane Watson. The major difference between the two was that while Lyon produced a sharp offbreak to get rid of Kumar Sangakkara, Eranga lulled Watson into a lapse with the widest of looseners. Sensing another boundary, Watson slapped it with unerring accuracy to point, continuing a series of successes for debutants and frustrations for the Australia opening batsman.

The batting orders
Seldom have there been so many surprises and significant changes at the toss of a Test match. Tillakaratne Dilshan and Michael Clarke, previously an opener and a No. 4 respectively, exchanged team-sheets that saw them both re-assigned to No. 5. But that was not the end of it. Thilan Samaraweera, struggling for runs and touch in this series but still a force to be reckoned with at the SSC, was dropped altogether, and Ricky Ponting returned to Australia's batting order at No. 4 rather than No. 3. Then there were the omissions of Ryan Harris, through injury, Usman Khawaja, Suraj Randiv and Seekkuge Prasanna. In all it made for a hectic start and Tony Greig's most enthralling toss interviews in recent memory.

The appeal
Sri Lanka had exhausted their two reviews for the innings when Shaun Marsh left a delivery angling into him and the ball struck both front and back pads before looping to Mahela Jayawardene in the slips. The umpire Tony Hill refused the lbw appeal, but then began to re-consider as Jayawardene sustained his query about a potential catch. Under the ICC's current Test match playing conditions, umpires cannot refer decisions save for run outs and low-catches, yet Hill appeared to circumvent the laws. Australia's captain Michael Clarke certainly seemed surprised, querying the matter as Hill and Aleem Dar conferred. He might have been more animated had Marsh been given out, but replays showed bat and gloves were a long way from the ball.

The milestone that wasn't
Shaun Marsh batted with such certainty for most of his stay that from the moment he passed 50 numerous record-books and databases were being scoured for other batsmen to have made centuries in their first two Tests innings or first two Tests. The former category is populated only by Alvin Kallicharan, Lawrence Rowe, Sourav Ganguly and Yasir Hameed. In the latter, Bill Ponsford, Doug Walters and Greg Blewett are the only Australia batsmen. Marsh was set to join the list when he reached a century that looked increasingly inevitable. But this reckoned without Rangana Herath, who found a way past the outside edge to flick off stump with Marsh on 81. One record Marsh did manage to break was the most total runs by an Australia batsman in his first two innings, 222 passing the 208 of Kepler Wessels.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by smudgeon on (September 16, 2011, 22:35 GMT)

Early signs are good from Marsh, but they are just that - early. Hopefully the media, CA & general public don't heap too much expectation on him just yet, I'd hate to see him turn into another Blewett or Elliott.

Posted by x-squire-x on (September 16, 2011, 17:54 GMT)

@ Chris Sun, Zaheer will only be a real threat if there is seam movement, in that case he's capable of troubling anyone, other than that Marsh should'nt worry about him. Steyn is world class, but Marsh would'nt have to face the new ball against him, so no real problems there really. Other than that the only real attack of quality comes from England, that will be his biggest test, but i like his chances and he should do a lot better than Blewett.

Posted by   on (September 16, 2011, 14:17 GMT)

Greg Blewett later ended up with an average of less than 35 in tests. Shaun Marsh could head the same way if he encounters better quality bowlers. Dale Steyn and Zaheer Khan could make life for him difficult.

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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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