Almanac Cricket – Sheffield Shield Round 2: Are we any the wiser?

“The Cricketer”
by Kate Birrell


Round 2 of the 2019/20 Sheffield Shield season didn’t really do much to help us work out who might be selected for the First Test against Pakistan next month. If anything, it simply reinforced the major questions and threw in the usual, early season Marsh question!


The Queensland Bulls v South Australia Redbacks game reminded us that Marnus Labuschagne is probably the form batsman in Australia at the moment. His second innings 72* guided the Bulls to their win after a shaky second innings collapse of 5/7 at one point. On the other hand, Joe Burns, Matthew Renshaw and Usman Khawaja continued to bat themselves out of contention with poor performances. Michael Neser continued his good form but it’s hard to see him coming into calculations with the likes of Cummins, Hazlewood and Starc in front of him. For the Redbacks, Travis Head did himself no favours with a total of just 12 runs for the game. Just spare a thought for Jake Lehmann who travelled all that way to face just seven deliveries for a pair!


In the NSW Blues v Tasmanian Tigers clash, Mitchell Starc was the big winner with a 10 wicket haul – music in the ears of the selectors. Steve Smith’s ton was a good sign and Moises Henriques also got among the runs to push his case for any all-rounder position that might be available. David Warner, with just 1 and 15* , was hardly compelling. For Tasmania, Matthew Wade had a modest game for 20 and 40, hardly demanding his retention in the Test team. So, Starc apart, no compelling performances there.


At the WACA, Victoria’s Marcus Harris had another good knock of 69 to continue to press his case for a recall. Is he like many others who fare better on harder Australian wickets but get found out in the tougher English conditions? Will Pucovski also reinforced his credentials with a solid 64. Glen Maxwell probably didn’t do enough to stake any claims in spite of a stubborn 57 in the second innings. The name of Marcus Stoinis has been thrown around again and he obliged with an useful 56 with the bat for WA but hardly impressed at the bowling crease. The curve ball was Shaun Marsh with his man-of-the-match 214 to, yet again, pose ‘the Marsh question’. How do you ignore a double century? Equally, how can you select a player aged 36 with such a modest Test record who is not in your long term plans?


So we’re still left with a heap of questions after Round 2. Mitchell Starc was the only real mover; Will Pucovski and Marcus Harris continued to push their cases without smashing any doors down; Shaun Marsh won’t go away; underwhelmers abound!


At this stage, does the Test team look something like Warner, Harris, Labuschagne, Smith, Pucovski, Wade, Paine, Cummins, Starc, Lyon, Hazlewood?


The Shield takes a break this weekend before Round 3 pits Tasmania against Victoria, South Australia against NSW and Queensland against Western Australia to provide one last chance for players to put their credentials before the Test selectors.


Bloody Shaun Marsh!


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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at


  1. I think you have got 10 out of 11 Ian. A bit worried that Pucovski is not quite ready. Have him in the 12 but the 11th Man is open slather. Maxwell and Stoinis will not play for Austarlia at Test level. Why scribes keep throwing their names up I don’t know. Punchy Marsh will be kicking himself (then again he would probably tear a hammy!). Who is next in line is anybody’s guess. I am a fan of Moisés but he lets himself down with inconsistency. Heazlitt should be looked at and what about Shaun Marsh or Geoff or Rod or Harry ?

  2. I suspect it’s a bit to do with how much of its marketing budget Cricket Australia has put into those two players over the last few seasons, CB.

    FWIW, I have no problem with the selection of Shaun Marsh if he is in form. That said it may very well depend on what (if any) selection strategy the panel intends for this summer.

  3. Shaun Marsh could make a couple more double tons and I still couldn’t see him being on the selectors radar. At 36, and with a woeful recent test record, he’s gone from recyclable to landfill. I reckon the selectors will persevere with emerging talent for the big series around the corner.

  4. Ian unless,Head makes a big hundred in the next game it’s Pucovski for mine,Carey should also be considered purely as a batsman but he didn’t help himself the round just gone either.Nesser just keeps bashing the door down.Surely no more chances for S Marsh.

  5. John Butler says

    Rulebook, I know you’re a Carey fan, but his record just doesn’t warrant him being selected as a specialist batsman.

    Then again, that could have been said of quite a few in recent years.

    Difficult to line form up. Some blokes have been playing on roads, others on seaming decks.

    We need to resolve the openers. They seem sold on Warner’s reputation. Lucky for him. I’d pick Burns as his partner. He should have made the Ashes touring party. Harris is an unconvincing test player. Wastes too many starts.

    A lot of out batsmen have unconvincing techniques. Others look down on confidence. The state of our batting is a real worry. Thankfully the bowling is flush with pace options. Though Lyon wouldn’t want to get hurt.

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