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Xavier Marshall: Talented, fiery and inconsistent West Indies batsman

Xavier Marshall © Getty Images
Xavier Marshall © Getty Images

Xavier Marshall, born on March 27, 1986, is a West Indies batsman. Marshall is a very talented batsman and fielder. He is also very inconsistent and has a fiery temper. Shrikant Shankar looks back at Marshall’s career so far.

Xavier Melbourne Marshall was born in Jamaica. He was considered a prodigy during his early days. There were even comparisons to a young Gordon Greenidge. Marshall is also an exceptional fielder. He rose through the ranks and played for the West Indies Under-19 team. He was a star performer for West Indies in the 2004 Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh. Marshall scored a magnificent 106 against South Africa in a group match. This helped West Indies qualify for the semi-finals. This was a side that also included Denesh Ramdin, Lendl Simmons and Ravi Rampaul.

West Indies thrashed England in the semi-finals as Marshall scored 45 runs at top of the order. He also gave West Indies a solid start in their run-chase against Pakistan in the final. But Marshall got out for 26 and West Indies lost the match by 25 runs. He soon made his First-Class debut. His good form also saw him make his West Indies debut in a One-Day International (ODI) against the mighty Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on January 14, 2005. He was out for five, as he edged one from Brett Lee to Adam Gilchrist. West Indies lost the match by 116 runs. This was a tri-series involving Pakistan as well and West Indies failed to make the best-of-three finals.

He was then selected in West Indies’ squad for the ODI series against South Africa in the Caribbean. He played in the third ODI and South Africa had won the first two matches. Marshall opened the batting with Chris Gayle, who scored 132 runs and West Indies were chasing a 285-run target. Marshall was dismissed for 15 and West Indies lost the match by a narrow one-run margin, as Charl Langeveldt took a hat-trick in the last over. He played the fourth and fifth ODIs, but failed to impress with single-digit scores in both matches. He was then selected in the ODI series against the touring Pakistan. But again, Marshall did not impress with his batting.

Marshall, in fact, won the West Indies Players’ Association’s Youth Cricketer of the Year award in June 2005. This prompted the selectors to name him in the West Indies squad for their tour of Sri Lanka. First up was an ODI tri-series involving India as well. In the third ODI against Sri Lanka at Dambulla on August 2, 2005, Marshall was one of the three wickets taken by Farveez Maharoof, as Sri Lanka won the match by 50 runs. Maharoof had bowled 10 overs and gave away only nine runs away in the match. West Indies failed to make the final and Marshall also did not have a good run with the bat.

He made his Test debut in the following series against Sri Lanka on June 13, 2005. It was a two-match series and West Indies suffered heavy losses in both. Marshall only managed a total of 17 runs in four innings. In the year 2005, Marshall also was reported for bad behavior on multiple occasions. His fiery temper and tongue got the better of him and added with his poor run with the bat, Marshall lost his place in the West Indies squad. He would not make his return till almost three years later.

Xavier Marshall has played seven Tests and has amassed 243 runs at 20.25. He has also scored 375 runs in 24 ODIs at 17.85 © Getty Images
Xavier Marshall has played seven Tests and amassed 243 runs at 20.25. He has also scored 375 runs in 24 ODIs at 17.85 © Getty Images

Jamaica won the First-Class regional championship in the 2007-08 season and this prompted the selectors to bring back Marshall in the West Indies squad for Australia’s tour of the Caribbean. The recall was a bit of a surprise, as Marshall did not particularly do well. In his return Test at Antigua in May 2008, Marshall scored a quick 53 off 69 deliveries in West Indies’ first innings against the likes of Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark and Stuart MacGill. This was the second Test and it ended in a draw. Australia had already won the first Test at Jamaica by 95 runs. Marshall played the third Test at Bridgetown, Barbados. Scores of 39 and 85 from Marshall could not prevent West Indies from losing the Test by 87 runs.

Marshall made his Twenty20 International (T20I) debut at Barbados on June 20, 2008. It was a 11-over-a- side-contest. Marshall smashed an incredible three fours and three sixes in a 15-ball 36, as West Indies chased down Australia’s 97 for three in 9.1 overs. He was also the Man of the Match. He then played the five-match ODI series against Australia. But West Indies were whitewashed 5-0. Marshall also did not impress with the bat, as he got into double-digits only twice with a highest of 35. Later on August 22, 2008, Marshall struck his first ODI century. He scored an unbeaten 157 off 118 deliveries against Canada at Ontario.

He struck a world record 12 sixes in that innings. He also hit 11 fours. The sixes record was later surpassed by Shane Watson. Rohit Sharma now holds the record. But Marshall’s career did not take off from there. He was even tested positive for a banned substance while training for the Stanford Super Series. Marshall last played for West Indies in June 2009 in a T20I. He has played seven Tests and scored 243 runs with two half-centuries. He has also played 24 ODIs and scored 375 runs with one century. Marshall has also played in six T20Is for West Indies.

(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)

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