India v Australia: Bangalore Test, Day 2 – A Tale Of Two Marshes


India 189; Australia 6/237

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

Charles Dickens could easily have been referring to the two Marshes when penning these famous lines. And he would not have been talking about Shaun and Mitch; he would have been referring to the two Shauns. Let’s be honest. No-one has ever suggested that Shaun Marsh cannot hold a bat. Despite a middling first-class average which stubbornly hovers around 40, and despite the fact that, in sixteen years of top-level cricket, he has scored only 24 first-class centuries. The fact is he can bat, as anyone who witnessed Marsh’s hundred on debut for Australia, or indeed his fine 148 against the South Africans at Centurion, will tell you. He is stylish, technically correct, and is strong on both sides of the wicket.

And therein lays the foundation of the exasperations we all experience with Shaun Marsh.

The frustrations with Marsh the elder are multi-faceted. He appears to be perennially on the injured list, which conveys to the average punter a sense of fragility. Selection-wise, he would seem to be given more favourable treatment when he is available, which gives him a whiff of being “in the club”. And, of course, there is his inconsistency, for which the current Indian tour could be presented as “Exhibit A”. Two terrible dismissals in the first Test had many calling for Usman Khawaja’s return, but the Pune eleven were rightly rewarded for the famous victory. (It was instructive that the hitherto stable Indian line-up was tinkered with).

Had Shaun Marsh failed in this match, he may well have been on the outer for the remainder of the tour. But his innings in Bengaluru on day 2 was a study in concentration and graft, not to mention a further example of why he so greatly frustrates. Arriving at the wicket on the dismissal of a strangely agitated Steve Smith at 2/82, Marsh’s 66 off 197 balls was a study in patience. Peter Handscomb (22, 19, 16 thus far in this series) would do well to take a dose or two of patience syrup. Marsh batted as well as I have seen him, and given the already-deteriorating wicket, the importance of the knock cannot be understated.

Matt Renshaw has been a revelation thus far in India. In a number of well-documented comments, even coach Darren Lehmann had his doubts about the young Queenslander, suggesting after Sydney that the kid may not even tour. Renshaw has proved wrong the doubters, of whom I was one. Of his opening partner, the only comment I will make is that I hope the same “horses for courses” selection policy applied to Khawaja is being applied to David Warner also. Davey’s innings in India make interesting reading: 59, 23, 6, 26, 71, 2, 0, 8, 38, 10, 33 (average 25.1).

Another to apply himself was Matthew Wade. And, really, it is not before time. Wade has been underwhelming with the bat (and gloves?) since replacing Peter Nevill and desperately needs a big innings. I was impressed by his willingness to dig in – this is easily the best he has looked since re-selection.

For India, I thought Ishant Sharma was the pick of the bowlers, working up good pace and troubling Steve Smith especially. Although Ravi Jadeja (3/46) took the figures, he was strangely underbowled by Virat Kohli. And again there were a couple of costly chances which went begging in the field.

Whilst not impressing Mrs Smokie, who is yet to overcome her BBL-induced cricket fatigue, for me the evening timeslot (3pm to 10pm) easily lends itself to lazy afternoons of analysis and railing against Michael Clarke’s try-hard commentary. At least I can turn the volume down and switch to the Whateley-led ABC Grandstand descriptions. Unfortunately, I cannot do the same when Mitch Marsh comes to the crease: his continued selection in the Australian Test team is bewildering, and now borders on outright farce.

“…it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…” In these last five words, Charles Dickens encapsulates Marsh the younger beautifully.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Nice one Smoke. Which selector is responsible for plucking Renshaw out of obscurity? We often bag the selectors when they get it wrong, but they may have this one right. Yes, England may test him out but he is patient, plays to the conditions and doesn’t seem to fall for the old “that’s the way I always play” nonsense. He’s a thinker.

    The Indians look desperate and so will fight hard. But they could also become distracted. We MUST keep the foot on the throat.

  2. Terrific write up Smokie. Jarrod Kimber made some great points about Sean Marsh on Cricinfo today. Not much good against seam, but averages nearly 60 in Asia. The opposite of Warner who goes hard at the ball with his hands. Horses for courses.
    Mitch Marsh looks like SWatson MkII to me in so many ways. His LBW falling away to the off yesterday was classic Watto. BUT his second innings 31 in Pune was valuable. Noone can pick in advance what these pitches are going to do – including the home team. MMarsh is the “just in case” spakfilla insurance policy. Up to tea time on Day One everyone was saying this was a 400+ pitch like the ones for the preceding England series. As soon as it dried out the cracks opened and it was staying low and turning prodigiously. I was thinking we will need MMarsh to bowl 20 overs of containment on a wicket not giving anything to the quicks or spinners. Who knew?
    This is the most gripping Test Cricket I have seen in a decade. Both teams are at each others throats and the bowler friendly wickets make it hard to look away. The drop-in roads in Australia will be the death of test cricket. Bring back Gabba green tops and Sydney and Adelaide fourth/fifth day turners.

  3. Yep you guessed it, the Aussies lead by 87 after the first dig. How many runs is enough for India? What can we chase down on this pitch. If the lead is more than 100 its game on. Surely we can get to 100? The key is probably Kohli.

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    SE Marsh well summed up Smokie.
    Really enjoyed his grinding innings last night. Gave his all yet played calmly. Felt sorry for him when he clipped that ball to the mid-wicket fielder on 66.
    Fantastic day of Test cricket to watch. Hard fought, every run and wicket meant so much. And all in prime time here in Australia.

  5. E.regnans says

    Interesting, Smokie.
    That shifty shadow of luck…
    Doors opening, doors closing, connections, introductions, tastes.
    There’s a lot to “unpack.”

  6. Curioser and curioser. The Case of the Dog that Didn’t Bark? The wicket that turned feral from Tea on Day 1 to Day 2 and then flattened out to slow but benign. Lyon and OKeefe went from flamethrowers to pop guns. Ashwin and Jadeja will be licking their lips. Fascinated to see if the Aussies can go to the well one more time.
    Great Test Match.

  7. Peter Warrington says

    Khawaja has never been dismissed in India. Can’t even get him out in a tour game.

    Warner: “it’s just how I bat”. Exactly…

  8. The Aussie foot was lifted ever so slightly off the Indian jugular, and they found the energy for the fight. This could be one of the great finishes to a Test match. Do the Aussies have one more hard-nosed, patient, grinding batting effort in them? Do the Indians still have doubts? Has the pitch settled into a dry, typically Indian shocker, without the lunatic bounce and turn? Or is it waiting to unleash more demons? This is brilliant. Love it.

  9. John Butler says

    Onya Smoke.

    Gripping cricket the last 2 days, as India clawed to undo the damage of day 1 (and Pune).

    Australia have exceeded all expectations thus far, but they may live to regret playing M Marsh instead of Khawaja.

    First hour today is critical.

  10. Some enlightening comments on this thread.
    It is amazing just how enthralling this type of Test cricket is. I am with Peter B – the flat decks now on offer in Australia will kill Test cricket. The drop-in decks are a big part of the problem. How good was it, only a generation ago, to see the spinners in the game on the last 2 days of a Sydney Test, or the ball seaming around every which way in the first two sessions of a Gabba Test? It will be very disappointing if the new Perth stadium is another flat one.
    Starkers, $120 for five days at a Test in Bangalore? I’d like to see that.

  11. JB, Brett Lee made a comment last night to the effect that Mitch Marsh will come good if given the opportunity.

    He has now played 21 Test matches.

  12. Well this interesting match is going to get a whole lot more interesting. Is that bad syntax?

    Our highest,winning fourth innings tally in India is 195. This resulted in an 8 wicket victory back in March 1998, in yep you guessed it:Bangalore.

    Hopefully a good omen.


  13. John Butler says

    “In the club” would seem on the money.

  14. Danny Russell says

    Enjoyed this thread, and particularly concur with the observations about Warner’s approach to batting. I can’t help but think though, that his next dig might be crucial to the series.

  15. Extraordinary – the Aussies led by 87 after the first dig, and now must chase 187. Its all in the numbers. I just wish I knew what it means. If Smith, Warner and Handscomb can all get 40 plus we win it. S. Marsh will be needed again.

  16. Surely the Mitch Marsh “experiment” is over ??

  17. E.regnans says

    It’s the way he plays.
    He just needs a chance, Smokie.

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