How lucky is Shaun Marsh?

Shaun Marsh
©REUTERS
 

The Australian Ashes squad has raised eyebrows from experts and fans all over the world. The recall of Tim Paine into the test squad after seven years remains the most debated decision. However, one must also ask about how the selectors keep turning back to Shaun Marsh in spite of his inconsistent performances.

The Shield season started this time around with the squads focusing on youth over experience. As a result, the likes of Michael Klinger, Ed Cowan and Cameron White were kept out of the playing XI’s of their respective state teams. Even though he was in the same age group, Shaun Marsh was fortunate to be not be on this list.

Ed Cowan was the highest run scorer in last year’s Sheffield Shield and should have been a sure shot starter for this season had it not been for the whims and fancies of the selectors. Their decision to give Daniel Hughes an opportunity meant that Cowan had to sit out. Klinger may have made his T20 debut for Australia recently, but he had a lean Shield season last year, in which he averaged 23.94 and probably deserved to get benched. However, the selectors seem to have somehow decided that the door is permanently shut for Cameron White. May be being 40 odd days younger to Marsh is a bit too old for the selectors liking!

While White’s first class records haven’t been too impressive over the past two seasons, he averaged 34.66 in the last Shield season as opposed to 42.25 in the one prior to that. Apart from that, he led Victoria to the title and has been the most consistent domestic one day player for the better part of the last two years. An injury prevented him from adding to his 199 runs at 49.75 this year while he plundered 457 runs at an average of 76.16 in the season prior to this. All said and done, he was Victoria’s 12th man for the first two games this season and was subsequently left out of the 12 for the third game.

The first class records of Marsh and White look pretty similar, if one has a look at them. Yet, Marsh continues to show the same promise to the selectors which he promised right from his debut in 2008 while White’s record has been referred to as not “earth-shattering” by Trevor Hohns.

Here’s a look at the careers of the two batsmen:

Player

Matches

Runs

Average

Strike Rate

100’s

50’s

Cameron White

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tests

4

146

29.20

44.24

0

0

ODI’s

88

2037

34.52

80.41

2

11

First Class

161

9513

39.80

 

20

48

List A

259

7336

37.42

79.86

12

43

Shaun Marsh

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tests

23

1476

36.00

44.67

4

7

ODI’s

53

1896

37.92

77.64

3

12

First Class

132

8496

40.84

 

22

42

List A

137

5377

43.01

79.31

13

30

 

While White was brought into the test squad as a leg-spinner, Marsh had always held his place as a top order batsman. If the selectors expected a part-time leg spinner to better the likes of Shane Warne in his first test series in India, then there is no doubt as to whose thinking was wrong.

If Trevor Hohns thinks that an average of 36 in tests and 38 in ODIs is earth shattering for a top order batsman vis a vis an average of 35 for a lower middle order batsman in White, then he would probably need to look at the dictionary again.

This is not the first time the Australian selectors have relied on an older player to bail them out of a crisis. There is no doubting the fact that Shaun Marsh is one of the most talented players going around in Australia and is very pleasing to the eye. However, the sudden turnaround on the decision to focus on youth and then bringing back an inconsistent international performer, while not recognizing the efforts of other experienced players need to be looked into.

Team selections are always a sensitive issue. The least the Australian selectors can do is to be clear about the way forward and maintain consistency with decisions.