England in Australia 2013-14

'I'm flexible in the batting order' - Marsh

Brydon Coverdale

January 10, 2014

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Marsh looking to seize ODI opportunity

When you think of Shaun Marsh and one-day cricket, you think of an opening batsman, a man who builds the platform and might bat deep into the innings. It was as an opener that Marsh emerged in the ODI side five years ago. It was as an opener that Marsh last played for Australia in England this year. And it was as an opener that he made 47, 54, 84 and 119 in his only Ryobi Cup games this summer. But it may not be as an opener that he returns to the side.

The World Cup is just over a year away and finding the right opening combination looms as one of the major tasks for Australia's selectors. Over the past year Australia have used 10 different opening combinations in 23 one-day internationals: Aaron Finch and Phillip Hughes, Hughes and David Warner, Matthew Wade and Warner, Finch and Glenn Maxwell, Finch and Usman Khawaja, Finch and Shane Watson, Warner and Watson, Wade and Watson, Hughes and Watson, Finch and Marsh.

They are not short on options; in fact, there are so many top-order possibilities that Hughes, a prolific ODI scorer over the past year, was squeezed out of the squad to take on England in the series that begins in Melbourne on Sunday. Perhaps the most likely scenario is for Finch and Warner to walk out first; Marsh said he had not yet been told where he would slot in, but was confident he was adaptable enough to bat lower down if asked.

"I'm pretty flexible in the batting order," Marsh said in Melbourne on Friday. "I can bat down the order if that's the role they want me to play. Over the next few days I'll get an understanding of whether I'm in the team or what sort of role they want me to play. It's another good opportunity for me to play well and try to cement my place in the team ... there's lots to play for."

There certainly is much for Marsh to play for, given that he has managed only six ODIs in the past two years. One of those brought a mammoth innings of 151, albeit against the minnows of Scotland in September, but a hamstring injury prevented him from keeping his place for the tour of India. Now he has the chance to make himself an incumbent in the side with a possible maiden World Cup in sight after he was overlooked for the 2011 World Cup.

Shaun Marsh whips one away to the leg side, Scotland v Australia, only ODI, Edinburgh, September 3, 2013
Shaun Marsh has been in good form as an opener in the Ryobi Cup this season © Getty Images

"I did spend a fair bit of time out of the team. I had to get a lot of runs in one-day cricket over the last 12 months to get an opportunity again," he said. "I feel like my one-day form has been pretty good. I've just got to carry that into the team now and put scores on the board if I get my chance.

"I've performed well at stages when I've played for Australia so that gives me confidence as well. I've just got to be a bit more consistent. If I do get an opportunity, I've just got to grab it with both hands. There's a lot of good players around Australia at the moment who are scoring runs and applying pressure on us guys who are in the team. It's important to take your opportunities and hopefully I can do that over the next three games."

Although Marsh believes he remains a long way from the Test team given his struggle for Sheffield Shield runs this season, he knows that at 30 he still has plenty of time to resume his Test career, given the success of older men like Chris Rogers and Brad Haddin over the past year.

"Oh definitely," Marsh said when asked if his best might still be ahead of him. "You look at a lot of the players now who are playing international cricket, they are all over 30 and they're playing really well. We've got a lot of players in our team as well who are world-class players over 30 so there's still lots of time. But I guess you've just got to take your opportunities when you are this sort of age. There's lot of younger good players coming through."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by   on (January 17, 2014, 8:33 GMT)

I dont know why but I love this guy shaun marsh , he is so pleasing to watch when in flow, he got skills that no one has doubt , if selectors give him enough time to get settled he can turn out to be much better than hughes or ferguson .

Posted by Ms.Cricket on (January 11, 2014, 2:25 GMT)

Aaron Finch is over-rated. Very good in domestic games but performs only 1 in 10 in international games.

Posted by Unifex on (January 11, 2014, 1:44 GMT)

Marsh is a protected species. The idea that he's in for Hughes, who played really well last season, sends the message that some players are more equal than others.

Posted by   on (January 11, 2014, 1:18 GMT)

my Australian odi lineup will be: 1.warner 2.finch 3.watson 4.clarke 5.bailey 6.maxwell 7.haddin 8.faulkner 9.johnson 10.pattinson 11.mckay/doherty

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 10, 2014, 23:05 GMT)

@ 2/22 ; Shaun Marsh has had numerous opportunities to showcase his reshaped attitude they are called games for EA. Showcase your talent there before you get back into the team, so far this season there are many out performing him.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (January 10, 2014, 22:29 GMT)

If they've selected him as a middle order bat, they should've gone with Ferguson. Ferguson beats Marsh on ODI record and consistency.

Posted by SevereCritic on (January 10, 2014, 21:10 GMT)

Finch, Warner, Watson, Clarke(c), Bailey, Maxwell, Haddin/Wade(wk), Faulkner, Johnson/Coulter-Nile, McKay, Doherty. Unless Clarke gets injured I don't see Shaun Marsh fitting in anywhere at all.

Posted by CricketMaan on (January 10, 2014, 15:12 GMT)

Is Marsh the Rohit Sharma of Aus team. High on talent Low on consistency?

Posted by choo_for_twenty_choo on (January 10, 2014, 13:33 GMT)

Top-flight cricketers know they are only ever one performance away from breaking records, or one series performance away from immortality. Look at Mitch J. Or Brad H. Or Chris R. All wore the "written-off journeyman' tag at some recent stage, despite showing early promise and application. Had it. Lost it. But now regained it - this time with interest. Age might not sharpen the reflexes - but it certainly can sharpen the mind. Shaun Marsh has been fighting his own battles but similarly deserves the same opportunity to allow his matured and reshaped attitude to marry with his undoubted skill, and so also rewrite the books.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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