Shaun Marsh will be in India by the weekend provided he can convince Cricket Australia his injured back is fully healed. The opener Marsh, who was the batting star of the first IPL, has been troubled by a bulging disc problem for the past five weeks and the injury interrupted his Australian one-day ambitions for the second year in a row.
If he can prove his recovery to Kevin Sims, the Cricket Australia physiotherapist, on Friday, Marsh will try to get on a flight that night or on Saturday morning and begin his road back with Kings XI Punjab. "Hopefully I'll get the all-clear, which I'm really confident of doing, and get over to play some cricket in India," Marsh told Cricinfo.
"It's perfect to get away and play over there, it's a little bit more relaxed than playing international cricket, so I want to get over there and have a little bit of fun and enjoy it. I'll see what happens after that."
Initially it was thought Marsh suffered back spasms in the warm-up before the third ODI against West Indies last month, but the injury was diagnosed as a painful bulging disc. It was another untimely setback for Marsh, who was floored by long-term hamstring injuries last year, just as he was becoming a fixture at the top of the one-day order. In 26 ODIs he averages 37.96 and made starts in all eight matches against Pakistan and West Indies this summer, with his scores ranging for 12 to 83.
The latest issue has forced a change in his approach to fitness for Marsh, who is still only 26. "The last year I've had these injuries and it's made me realise I have to start look after my body a little bit better," he said. "I probably really haven't worried about it too much. This has given me a little bit of a kick up the bum that I make sure I do everything right, with recovery and gym work and that sort of stuff. I see it as a minor setback."
Shane Watson, who seems to have overcome his injury plague, has offered Marsh support with his problems. Marsh has not followed Watson into a life full of pilates and free of alcohol, but he has restructured his training and wants to build on the outlook in India.
Punjab are currently win-less after two games and have matches on Sunday and Tuesday, which Marsh could be part of. He was the surprise of the first IPL, topping the run list with 616 at a strike-rate of 139.68, but he didn't play in the second event due to his hamstring problems.
Later in this campaign he hopes to run into his little brother Mitchell, the 18-year-old signed with Deccan Chargers. "He had a fantastic year this year, he came on in leaps and bounds," Shaun said. "Hopefully I'll get over there and play against him."
Mitchell left Perth for India on Tuesday and the brothers' franchises are due to face each other on April 16. By then Shaun will know how his body has coped with the extra demands of his rehabilitation.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo