Shaun Marsh has set his sights on emulating his father Geoff and becoming an opening batsman for Australia in Test and one-day cricket. Marsh was handed his first Cricket Australia contract on Wednesday and with Matthew Hayden and Phil Jaques the only specialist openers in the 25-man squad, he knows a top-order spot could soon be there for the taking.
Chris Rogers, who filled in for Hayden in the Perth Test in January, was axed from the list and there is also no obvious replacement for Adam Gilchrist as an ODI opener. James Hopes and Michael Clarke have performed the role on occasions, but the inclusion of Marsh in the limited-overs squad to tour West Indies indicates he is in the running.
Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said the panel believed Hayden and Jaques had formed such a good Test pairing that a specialist backup was not necessary. They also considered Marsh a potential replacement if required.
"Jaques has grasped his opportunity to open the batting very well, while we've taken the view that Hayden will see his way through to the next Ashes tour of England in 2009," Hilditch said in the Australian. "I'd like to think that was achievable, while on the other hand I'd also like to think a Shaun Marsh, Simon Katich or Brad Hodge could put their hand up if the occasion arose."
Marsh often comes out first for Western Australia in one-day games but is typically used at No. 3 in Pura Cup matches. The departure of Rogers from the state side will open up a top-two position and with Hayden, 36, approaching the end of his career, Marsh is keen to try his hand as an opener.
"Obviously in the next few years it is going to change up there, and it is a position that is going to open up," Marsh said. "It is something I want to do." His Western Australia coach Tom Moody said it was likely Marsh would be bumped up the Warriors order next season.
"He is not stupid," Moody said. "He realises that with Hayden getting to the stage where he is at in his career, and Phil Jaques still cementing his position, he sees there is an opportunity at the top of the order more than in the middle order. He's a player that has come along enormously in the past 12 months and could easily walk into the opening position, so we will just move the middle order around."