Shaun Marsh admitted to checking his phone in the build-up to the ongoing Adelaide Test against India. But, as it turns out, he wasn't waiting for a call from the Australian selectors. Instead, he was checking out some of the amusing online videos that were doing the rounds calling for his return to the Test team in the wake of injuries to David Warner and Will Pucovski, and Joe Burns' slump in form.
One video on Twitter that featured a scene from WWE's Royal Rumble - where Marsh's face had been photoshopped on John Cena's body as he entered the arena to rapturous applause from fans while other wrestlers lay prone in the ring - was viewed more than 60,000 times.
Marsh, 37, produced a stunning start to the Sheffield Shield for Western Australia this season, plundering three centuries in six innings while tallying 485 runs at 97.00. That led to murmurs about a recall - given he has opened in Test cricket ten times while averaging 38.55, including a century against Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2016 - but Marsh did not buy into the hype.
"There were certainly no phone calls," Marsh said. "I probably wasn't expecting one either, to be honest. There were a few funny videos being thrown around. I got a few from a few of my mates back home, which were quite funny. But there were certainly no phone calls from anyone. I'm purely focused on playing well down here for the [Melbourne] Renegades [in the BBL]."
I'm 37 now. I haven't played for a few years in Test cricket. As I said, I wasn't expecting a phone call and I'm pretty comfortable with where I'm at. [I'm] trying to play as well as I can for the Renegades for the next six weeks and getting back to WA after that and finishing off the Shield season. I guess that's where it's at for me at the moment
Marsh has not played Test cricket since the Sydney Test against India on their previous tour of Australia in 2018-19, and has not played for Australia since the 2019 World Cup game against Sri Lanka, from which he was ruled out owing to a fractured fore-arm. And though he hasn't retired from international cricket yet, Marsh conceded that his international days were over.
"I think so, yeah," he said. "I'm 37 now. I haven't played for a few years in Test cricket. As I said, I wasn't expecting a phone call and I'm pretty comfortable with where I'm at. [I'm] trying to play as well as I can for the Renegades for the next six weeks and getting back to WA after that and finishing off the Shield season. I guess that's where it's at for me at the moment."
The veteran is set for a career-first on Saturday when he will captain the Renegades against the Hobart Hurricanes in the absence of Aaron Finch, who has travelled home to Melbourne for a short break. Though Marsh has played 187 T20 matches, he has never captained a T20 team despite having led Western Australia in 14 Shield games.
"I'm excited about it," Marsh said about his captaincy debut. "It's obviously going to be a new experience for me. I've obviously played a lot of T20 games now, so I'd like to think that I have a lot of experience behind me. But as I've said, it's my first time being in charge out there; but we've got a lot of senior players that I'm sure I'll lean on in this game with Finchy not playing."
Finch's absence has also opened the door for 18-year-old Victorian Jake Fraser-McGurk to possibly open the batting alongside Marsh. "We've thought about that," Marsh said. "We haven't finalised it yet. He's certainly an option for us. We're looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the table. He's a fantastic young player and a really good kid."
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne