Shaun Marsh – Australia’s cricketing enigma

A look at Shaun Marsh’s career makes one thing is prominent — he finds it difficult to maintain good form over a period of time © Getty Images

It’s said that first impression is a lasting impression. Shaun Marsh would disagree with the saying. He made a good impression on both, his One-Day International (ODI) and Test debut, but finds himself out of reckoning in both the formats.
Making his ODI debut after a successful season in the Indian Premier League (IPL), he acquitted himself well by scoring a polished 81. That the debut came five years after Steve Waugh picked him to be a special player is a surprise. After that match, he went through a normal run in the Sheffield Shield and didn’t come into the collective notice of the selectors till the breakthrough IPL performance.
Looking at his career, one thing is prominent. He finds it difficult to maintain good form over a period of time. In fact, every good innings of his is a microcosm of his career. His knock of 85 for Perth Scorchers against Melbourne Renegades, spread over 52 balls showed us the reluctant starter, the team man, the excellent reader of the match situation and also, at times, a man who can’t will himself on for the long run.
At the beginning of the innings, he was happy to stand at the non-striker’s end and let Herschelle Gibbs handle the task of providing an aggressive start to the innings. When Aaron Finch, the Renegades captain, brought himself into the attack, he was all at sea against him. He struggled to get bat onto the balls that were speared onto his pads.
When each and every aspect of that innings is dissected, you would find that he played shots that were hit straight down the ground. The first boundary off William Sheridan, the sixes off Samuels and Finch and the way he rotated the strike, everything pointed to a man who was at the top of his game. In fact, he was hitting Finch off the deliveries that he found difficult to put a bat on early in the innings.
Australian supporters of cricket know better, because they didn’t hype the innings. They knew that Marsh was bound to fizzle out after an effervescent performance — and he did live up to their expectations. They have multiple examples of these phenomena that they simply stopped bothering.
If you had seen him in his first two innings in Sri Lanka (Tests) and that resolute 44 in the first essay at Cape Town, it would have been difficult to believe that his career would careen to the depths it now inhabits.
With two slots opening up in the middle order, it was indeed pitiable that the name of Shaun Marsh didn’t figure in the discussions. He has himself to blame for this. His record of indiscipline and an injury-prone back are held up against him every time a good knock of his surfaces.
If he wants to retain a spot in the Australian team, his brief is simple: do something that he hasn’t been able to do for the last 12 years — be consistent.
(An Australian fan at sports, Venkat Raghav loves cricket and tennis equally. He puts his biased thoughts into writing once in a while at