The Australia selectors created a stir in the fraternity and on the social media when they made some shocking selections for the iconic Ashes. The most debated inclusion in the 16-man squad was that of Tim Paine and Shaun Marsh. Marsh is expected to bat at No. 6, which has also been the most debated position in the Australian batting line-up. People do have a diverse opinion about it, some have criticised the move while the others have backed Marsh’s recall. One should also remember, this is also the eighth occasion where Marsh has earned a national recall.
Interestingly, despite debuting back in 2011, Marsh has only featured in 23 Tests for Australia. His career has been heavily hampered due to injuries and parched runs column. In 23 games so far, Marsh has belted 1476 runs at 36. He debuted Test cricket with a bang, scoring a century against Sri Lanka, but has certainly not lived up to the expectations. In fact, many thought his Test career was almost over when his Cricket Australia contract was not renewed recently.
For the record: I hope Shaun Marsh goes full Bradman on Poms. In full flight, he's a treat to watch. Also hope this selection, along with Paine, has Cowan, Bailey and White (one day) part of return to the ageless selection policy (all levels) that led Aus cricket dominance.
— Brett Geeves (@brettygeevz) November 19, 2017
The Sheffield Shield this time focused on young talent ahead of experience. It was quite clear that the tentative positions in the line-up were there for the grab and a prolific run in the tournament will earn a national call. Since the focus this time was on the young guns, experienced players like Ed Cowan, Cameron White were not a part of the playing XI for their respective sides. Not to forget, Cowan was the highest run-scorer in last year’s Shield and is just a year older than Marsh.
Australia have not gone back to their older players for the first time, they have done it in the past and this is indeed no surprise. The 34-year-old southpaw is pleasing to watch in his prime and can play fantastic innings when in flow, but that’s not very often in whites. Often a batsman fails to replicate similar magic against the red ball like he does against the white ball. And Marsh’s performance in whites so far corroborates the belief.
Find someone who loves you the way the Aussie selectors love Shaun Marsh.
— Jon Tuxworth (@Tuxy81) November 16, 2017
Marsh was outstanding in his debut season for Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League, where he topped the run-scoring charts. But, hasn’t managed to score big runs at the Test level. There are several reasons behind his failure at the top level.
Marsh looks vulnerable against swing bowling. A hint of movement away from him and his bat tends to follow it further resulting in an outside edge. He has been worked out in the past and struggles to play against swing. He gets stuck when it comes to rotating the strike and piercing the gaps. At this level, one just can’t afford to have so many weaknesses. Nevertheless, the selectors have shown faith in his abilities and have also been backed by former great cricketers.
“I can see why there’s all the talk about it, but at the end of the day, he’s a class player and a quality player. If you ask any First-Class player around the country if Shaun Marsh is playing at his best, he’s in the best six batsmen in the country. And he is playing at his best at the moment. His body is good, so why wouldn’t you go for the best. He’s playing well, he is one of Australia’s best six batsmen, so let’s get him in there,” Michael Hussey told The Untold Podcast.
Great to hear that Shaun Marsh will finally get a chance to show his wares for Australia. The kid could be anything
— Fire Up! (@FireUpOnFBI) November 16, 2017
Not just Hussey, Michael Clarke also backed his selection and spoke at the Hublot-sponsored event to promote the company’s partnership with the Ashes. “You can’t hate Shaun. He’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. He’s an absolute champion. He can bat anywhere in the order, he can open, he can bat at three, he’s batted four… he’s going to get the chance to bat six. When he’s fit and healthy he’s brilliant in the field,” said Clarke.
Prior to the announcement of the squad, Glenn Maxwell was the most likely candidate to get a nod for the No. 6 slot. He has played a handful of Test matches, all of which came in the sub-continent. He is yet to play a Test in Australia and this series looked like an ideal platform for him to do so. He did reasonably well in the Shield and and was the frontrunner in the race for No. 6 in the line-up.
Most importantly, Maxwell is an attacking player and well suited for no. 6 position, which demands a different set of skills altogether. Also, Maxwell has a healthy First-Class record, which is a testament to his success against the red leather.
Shaun Marsh has only played one Ashes Test. It was this one… pic.twitter.com/bi8AgdYJ5z
— Peter Miller (@TheCricketGeek) November 16, 2017
Another well-deserved candidate was Callum Ferguson, who played just a solitary Test for Australia and was dropped. Ferguson too had a fantastic Shield season. If selectors were looking at younger talents then there were many more young guns in the Shield, who scored a lot of runs to sculpt a spot in the line-up, but they’ve shown faith in Marsh.
For the No. 6 spot, players like Hilton Cartwright, Marcus Stoinis, Kurtis Pattinson, Daniel Hughes, Jake Lehmann and Jake Weatherald have done well in the recent times, but Marsh made the cut. Will he justify his selection and prove the selectors right? Well, only time will unveil this mystery.
Time is running out for Marsh; this is his eighth comeback and needs to grab it with both the hands. Well, his selection was justified or not is a tough call to take, but his recent form in the Shield was not incredible either. He averaged 39.33 in six games with 236 runs under his belt. When selectors hinted towards young talents in the Shield, then they should have stuck to it. The selectors have made some good choice like Bancroft’s inclusion and seemed to have stuck with experience over youth for the crucial No. 6 slot. Although Marsh has the ability, but it’s high time that the promising cricketer now converts talent into massive numbers.