Shaun Marsh? Really? (An old yarn, re-visited)

I smelt a rat on Sunday when the incestuous Channel 9 commentary box started spruiking Shaun Marsh’s touring prospects during the one-dayer in Sydney.

As much as Marsh was batting impressively against a pathetically inept English side, I couldn’t resist a nagging thought in the back of my mind…..wasn’t this the bloke who had to be put out of his misery the last time he tried to play Test cricket, two summers ago in Australia?

Of course it was. Marsh, the most indulged and overrated Test cricketer Australia has presented a baggy green cap to in the last ten years, had scored 17 runs in six innings against an Indian attack which Michael Clarke averaged 128 against and a past-his-best Ricking Ponting averaged 82.

And for those who want to justify his selection against the South Africans based on his ability to play pace, and may think it was a case of Indian spin that was his downfall  –  no, Marsh didn’t last that long. He was dismissed by pace bowlers five times out of six.

For the time, money and effort invested in them over a prolonged period by Australian cricket, no two cricketers have given less back than Shaun Marsh and Shaun Tait. Both players should have been stars for Australia in every form of the game, yet the overwhelming opinion one has of them is that they’ve been disappointing opportunists.

At least Taity has an excuse : he is performing the most violent aspect of the game with an action that must put incredible strain on his body. Something had to give.

Marsh is merely a batsman –  you hardly need fitness levels of Hawaii Ironman proportions to do that. Yet – for whatever self-indulgent reasons only he can elaborate upon regarding his social life  –  he has rarely been able to present himself in sufficient shape to play Sheffield Shield cricket consistently well in a state that has been floundering for ten years.

He should have been a dominant Shield player to say the least, yet his figures are just adequate for someone of his pedigree and class, never more so than in the current season.

There can be no argument about the philosophy of dropping George Bailey and earmarking Marsh or Alex Doolan for the no.3 position in South Africa in three weeks time : how that impacts on Shane Watson’s mindset is another matter. But the fact is that Marsh hasn’t deserved this opportunity before others.

When he played so well on Test debut with his 144 in Sri Lanka, then scored 81 the next week and 44 in Johannesburg a few weeks later, it appeared that our prayers for a Ponting replacement at no.3 had been answered.

Yet within days the Western Australian was back to square one, writhing in agony on the floor of the dressing room with back pain and unable to bat until no.11. Then followed his nightmare Aussie summer against the Indians.

It seems that John Inverarity, Boof and other influential people are prepared to back Marsh to the hilt on this one. They’ve had a good run lately with the enormous success of Johnson, Harris and Rogers.

Let’s hope we will be looking back in a couple of years time and thinking the same about Shaun Marsh. He’s certainly good enough. Somehow, watching him play and looking into his eyes, I doubt we will.


  1. Peter Flynn says

    Cheers Brendan.

    Spot on.

    I saw his dismissal in Adelaide.

    He inexplicably missed a straight one from Ashwin(?) early doors.

    He’s too easy to dismiss.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Totally agree B Mac why is it that we consistently state that we have the strongest domestic competion in the world that we are not picking sides based on form in shield cricket ? On shield performances surely it is either North or Hughes or on form and speculation as a middle order player Ferguson
    Brendan as you correctly point out most of the selections have worked lately with
    Haddin being the masterstroke ( Johnson was forced by injuries to other quicks )
    Has it been the poor standard of the opposition ?
    As a shield nut I am rapt that Hughes and Ferg have been left behind but feel sorry for the both of them ! The sight of B Mc Ardle racing down the steps at Adelaide oval to make his shield debut having flown over that morning is a Gillette Great Moment in Sport ! Thanks Brendan

  3. Absolutely spot on with this article Brendan.

    The logical inclusions to tour, based upon form, had to be North and Hughes.

    Both players have been tried and fired but the history books show plenty of players who “get their second wind” after a period of time out of the elite level of the game. My own, albeit very foggy memory banks recall in more recent times that guys like S Waugh, Katich, Hayden, Haddin, Johnson, Lyon, Rogers all spent time in the wilderness only to come back as elite level cricketers.

    Sorry Malcolm, I know you are number 1 ticket holder for the Ferguson fan club but he is as qualified as Shaun Marsh is to get a call up . . .

  4. I actually felt sorry for Marsh a couple summers ago. It was a clear as day he was mentally gone and horribly out of form yet the selectors kept wheeling him out to suffer another certain failure on the national stage.

    And here we are again, the selectors seeing something that no one else can. Kind of recall his old man also getting a fairly extended run, albeit in lean times.

  5. I have an alternative explanation, and that is the conspiracy theory. I agree with everything Brendan says, but can I suggest an Invers plot?

    I think Hughes has had even more invested than Tait or Marsh. I really believe that everytime they drop him, he does what they say and makes runs. On form, take away the Test history, he tours no issue.

    But it’s too early to get him back. So, as they did and admitted with Quiney, Hughes is once again shielded from the Saffas pace attack, as I think they would sort him out in two seconds, and if he is at 3, and Warner goes early, it places a lot of middle order pressure on Clarke etc in that important tour.

    So Marsh takes the fall in SA, and a potential win win occurs. If he fires, they are genuises and he grows up and eventauly repays the faith shown in him whilst he mucked around and lost the clear talent he has. He is potentially thanked for a job well done and maybe stays at 3

    If he bombs, no worries, he’s beaten by the likes of Steyn, no shame there. Hughes has had a few more shield games to do well, the weight of runs does his confidence a world of good, all is forgiven and he plays in the Australian summer as a test player again, either for Marsh at 3 if SA goes bad, or for Rogers opening if Marsh does well and Rogers is thanked and pensioned off.

    Either way, the frustrating Invers love child comes back for 2014/15


  6. Bushy,
    You have hot the nail on the head….
    As always, some mixed messages with the selection of this squad.
    The bowlers more or less pick themselves, but the urge to rush J Pattinson (and to a lesser extent Bird) into the ODI team, and now the Test squad, is a bit of a worry I reckon. Surely at least one of the bowlers who has done the hard yards in Shield and domestic cricket (e.g. Coulter-Nile) this season should have been rewarded?
    Same goes for the batting. S Marsh was picked on the basis of a big T20 score last time (was it a 99?) whilst Doolan has hardly been prolific.
    Phil Hughes is downright stiff. The mantra has always been “go back and make runs in Shield cricket”. He has done this, but it is still not enough. This on top of his record v Sth Africa, averaging 50+ (I can’t believe so many people have forgotten his efforts on his first tour of S Africa). Remember also he made 81no v England in the First Test and two Tests later was gone. I bet he wouldn’t have minded the chances George Bailey had this summer!

  7. DBalassone says

    Agreed Smokie. Phil Hughes is definitely the man for mine. If nothing else, he has shown the ability to go on and score test centuries (3) and his recent 81 not out was almost forgotten in the midst of Agar’s heroics. It was a class innings.

    I think you have to be careful with S.Marsh, his high scores in Sri Lanka in 2011 were against some very inexperienced attacks. I would have preferred to persist with George Bailey if it came down to Marsh and Bailey. Granted that Bailey was disappointing this summer, but averaging 26 is not a total failure. Marsh’s summer in 11/12 was the worst I can ever remember by a test batsman – even G. Chappell’s duck season in 81/82 had a few big scores here and there.

  8. Troy Hancox says

    Do we play cricket in Adelaide???
    The boys club stands firm…….
    Last name Marsh…. any relation to Rodney?

    Always the Eastern states to get the nod.

    Phil Hughes should of got the nod for squad inclusion.
    Form is everything. Speculation is like playing Lotto.
    We all like to hope and pray to win that.

    Are the selectors playing lotto?
    Time will tell.

    Loads of valid points from ALL above.
    Great reading! Thanks.

  9. Glen Potter says

    Thanks, Brendan, for echoing the thoughts of any cricket-loving, pre-frontal lobe bearing Australian. North and Hughes would be two very agitated, confused men at the moment. Let’s hope this selection error is an Inve-‘rarity’.

  10. Hi Brendan,
    thanks for posting your thoughts and starting the discussion.
    I’ve often wondered what goes into team and squad selections at the high levels.

    Do you know of times when off-field considerations have swayed selection? I’m sure there is a history of disciplinary omissions, but I’m thinking more about inclusions.
    For instance, I heard that GJ Bailey is apparently highly thought of for his off-field leadership and the personality he brings to the dressing room, and that this was a consideration in his inclusion for the recent England series.
    Is there any lead along those lines for the selection of SE Marsh in a TOURING party?
    thanks again.

  11. That theory certainly bought Brendan Julian seven Tests.

  12. Look you blokes – give you a bit of credit for my Ashes win and you all think you are selection geniuses.
    Hands up all those who said my selection of Mitch and Hadds was a masterstroke BEFORE the first test. Your opinions count, the rest of you can all have a bex and a good lie down.
    Adelaide Oval runs count half. Phil Hughes deserves a SECOND chance? Shit I gave him his second chance two chances ago.
    Only “Faded’ has an ounce of strategy and awareness. Shaun Marsh in form is one of the best in the world. OK so he’s a confidence player. Run of outs and he will be dropped quicker than the smartarse Almanac selection team.
    But class is permanent and form is temporary. He’s the best option for playing their quicks on their decks.
    He’s injury prone you say? And Watto, Clarke and Harris aren’t? There are no Bernie Tomic’s in my line ups. You turn up and put your body on the line unless you have 2 broken legs (and a note from your mum).
    Shaun has learned his lesson and will be right to go for Centurion Park.
    I may have to reconsider the Almanac batting order though.
    Curtain is opening. The rest of you are on notice.

  13. Why all this carry one about ONE player.

    Surely George Bailey has shown that a successful cricket team doesn’t need 11 players.

    Shaun will be fine.

  14. I’m a bit peturbed that so many of us feel having having Marsh selected in the squad makes him a definite starter for the opening test. What about Doolan? Granted his shield form is no better than Bailey or Marsh, but wouldn’t it be better to play him in the opening test? Then again, if Doolan plays, will it be simlar to the Quiney selection, where Quiney was virtually ‘sacrificed’ to protect Hughes from the Proteas. Only time wil tell, but let’s wish well to who ever gets in.


  15. Todd Allison says

    Sorry mate, but there are far worse cricketers to have been given the Baggy Green in the last 10 years. To name a few Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell, Moises Henriques, Bryce McGain, Dan Cullen, Cullen Bailey and Peter George. As for the most overpampered, overrated and overindulged, well Watson takes the cake eats and defecates all over the next person.

    Having said that I don’t agree with the selection – Phil Hughes seems more deserving to me, but he only needs one bad knock to be cast off forever. An even better choice, but one obviously stamped never to play is David Hussey.

  16. Agreed Todd re David Hussey. Not to many players with a first class average over 50 who never played a test. I wonder if his awkward style to the eye – he seems to have a lot of bottom hand in his grip – rendered him a ‘test-cricket-never’ with the selectors.

    Law, Hodge, Boof, etc should have played more test cricket, but at least they can say they wore the baggy green. Geez, I feel sorry for Huss.

  17. PS Did Cullen Bailey wear the baggy green? Can’t say I recall that. Gosh, the memory is getting worse with age.

  18. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Cullen Bailey no baggy green ,Dan Cullen 1 test match v Bangladesh Inc
    The Dizzy Gillespie double hundred game

  19. Spot on comments, Marsh doesn’t deserve to be selected on his shield history, his previous testy exposure or his current form in the long format. At least George Bailey showed leadership.

  20. I also agree that, following the success of Chris Rogers, Dave Hussey should be given a try. His average is more than 15 better than S. Marsh

  21. Andrew Starkie says

    Australian selectors choose who they want over who is most deserving. The list of those picked before they are ready or good enough just keeps growing. You would think selectors would have learnt their lesson after Maxwell. No. Marsh isn’t playing well enough to warrant Test selection. Nor was he two seasons ago when brought back for the Indian series on the back of a 99* at Docklands and shoved into no. 3 spot underdone and unfit, to protect over-indulged Clarke and Ponting. Surprise, surprise, it didn’t work and he was dumped. Now, it’s happening again. Good luck to Marsh for receiving a re- call, however selectors are endangering his career by choosing him before he is ready. Will it be the end of Marsh if he fails against the best attack in the world? Why doesn’t Invers tell him, ‘We’re still looking at you but need you prove you really want it’.

    Shield form should be the only criteria. Hughes, North, White are more deserving. Sadly, Hussey is too old.

    Bailey, like Marsh, averages in the 30s at FC level and shouldn’t have been picked for the Ashes. Being a good bloke should have nothing to do with it.

    Similarly with the bowlers. Dougie was on stand-by throughout the Ashes and suddenly has been discarded for Pattinson who hasn’t played since England.

  22. I cant believe this practice of picking Test players on one-day form. Surely selection for different forms of the game should be as simple as this..4 and 5 day form for Test form for T20 and 50-over. Why wouldnt you completely separate the two? As it is players are trying to put their hands up for Tests by concentrating on first Shield and then one-day cricket. We have this ridiculous position now of Phil Hughes being in great Shield form but not making the team, then switching over to one-dayers and now making the South African tour..when he hasnt even faced the red ball in a month! And we wonder why our batsmen cannot bat for lengthy periods against quality Test attacks.. If the players know that to play Tests they need to perform at Shield level only then that is what those seeking to play Test cricket will focus solely upon..and the result will be techniques much more honed to the 5-day game/

  23. Steve Fahey says

    The selection, exclusion because of injury and re-inclusion of Shaun Marsh,the latter two before a competitive ball is bowled on this tour is one of the most bizarre stories in recent Australian cricket history. It seems very much like the farcical goings-on before the India 2013 tour and in the lead-up to the first Ashes test in the UK in 2013. Because we are on a roll on the field, it is unlikely to get the media attention and commentary that it would have if we’d been on a losing roll.

    The pecking order for the batting vacancies is suddenly very unclear, as is indeed whether the number 6 vacancy is a batting vacancy or an all-rounder vacancy. Henriques is averaging 50 with the ball and 30 with the bat in first-class cricket this season. Please don’t play him on Wednesday night !!! And if he does play, please bat Haddin in front of him at 6.

  24. Luke Reynolds says

    Steve’s right, play anyone but Henriques in the first Test!!

  25. The day that Collingwood start selecting the Australian cricket (or football) side – we are really stuffed.
    Only Brother Les and I got this one right.
    Invers rules – got it Victorian doubters???
    Regards from the Golden West.

  26. Malcolm Ashwood says

    I will gladly admit I was wrong when , Shaun Marsh stays on the ground and contributes over a lengthy period of time . If the test team is not going to be picked from shield form this will only create more problems in the long run . I also find it interesting that I as I am sure most members of the knackery had doubts on , Steve Smith but he is held in huge regard inside cricket circles I kept thinking there are too many guys who no to be wrong . S Marsh is not held in the same opinion . Ridiculous programming did not help selection but on shield form , Hughes , North , Cooper , Ferguson and Voges to a lesser extent deserved selection before , S Marsh

  27. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says


  28. So, at the moment, for the 3rd Test, we are looking at:

    1. keeping Marsh and hoping he is having a ‘not out for a duck’ game, which is about 50% of his Test career
    2. Replacing him with Hughes, and hoping same
    3. Bringing back Watto

    Oh dear

  29. Michael Clarke. Really?
    Time to stop talking the talk, and starting walking the walk.
    Eventually the predators work out that there is not much to a frill necked lizard other than the fierce appearance.

  30. Andrew Starkie says

    Final judgment when series is over, but I have serious doubts about Marsh and Doolan in the same team. Not enough spine and experience. Hughes is the better bet at 6. Clarke went into damage control during postmatch speeches, giving Morkel a huge rap. Fair enough, but losing 10-90 isn’t good enough. He needs to lead from the front in decider. Clarke also made it clear in the presser he doesn’t want Watto back.

  31. Andrew Starkie says

    My love for C Rogers keeps growing

  32. Andrew, agree with your concerns re Marsh & Doolan, but (without having seen you play, and without having swing a bat myself in years) I would rather have you or me in the team than Phil Hughes. Every decent bowling attack in the world has worked out that he doesn’t have a straight bat shot in his repertoire, easy pickings for an attack of this quality.

  33. I’ve often heard wise old cricket heads say that you shouldn’t blame the blokes who go early – that can happen to anyone. It’s the ones who get a start and don’t go on with it you should point the finger at… so drop Warner.

    By the way. I listened to a lot of the second Test and didn’t hear one Australian wicket fall.

    And I liked the ABC Radio news reader who said the other night… “In the second Test at Port……………………………. (pause for missing script)………………….. Adelaide

  34. Andrew Starkie says

    Where have all the batsmen gone?

  35. Sad to read a post from circa 18 months ago extolling the virtues of Phillip Hughes. A tragedy of proportions like we’ve never experienced in the cricket world during our lives, with the only vague similarity being the death of Archie Jackson.

    Back to Shaun Marsh, the fourth test should be his final appearance in the baggy green, but with such a fragile batting line up, who can say.


  36. It was with a lump in my throat that I read my post above lauding one P Hughes. Wouldn’t he be handy to have waiting in the wings right now!

    It is amazing that a story from 18 months ago is relevant for today.

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