Shaun Marsh top scored for Australia with 130 runs in the first innings vs Sri Lanka on Day 3 © AFP
Shaun Marsh top scored for Australia with 130 runs in the first innings vs Sri Lanka on Day 3 © AFP

Shaun Marsh will surely make the headlines in newspapers before Australia and Sri Lanka meet on the field on Day Four of the third and final Test at Colombo. This is after all his comeback match after the three-Test series Australia hosted West Indies in October 2015. He had a splendid run in that series, with career-best 182, but was left out in the middle of the series due to injury. The script has been erratic for Marsh, as he either bows out of the team due to inconsistency or because of an injury. He has been in the team management’s scheme of things for long, but still has played less than twenty Test matches till date. No doubt he is bankable and talented, but he is still not there yet. On the contrary, Steven Smith who started his career slightly after him but is now the leader of the pack. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Sri Lanka vs Australia, 3rd Test at Colombo

Marsh’s love affair with injuries and inconsistencies:

Marsh made his Test debut versus Sri Lanka in 2011. He announced his arrival in the toughest format of the game by slamming a century. Like many others, who scored a ton in Test debut, he was also touted as Australia’s finest finds.  The selectors had an eye on the left-hander, but he made them change their plans as he got injured soon. This pushed his case for selection backwards, as the selectors moved on from him to others. He staged a comeback into the team during Australia’s humiliating tour of India in 2013 but looked a shadow of himself, as he piled only 17 runs from six innings, thereby marking a calamitous return.

He either made an exit due to injury or hit a rough patch with the bat. In his defense to his shallow performance in India, the whole team fell apart in the series with few good scores only by Smith. He showed his weakness against spin and had to pay the price by being axed. Marsh again earned a recall in the Test side in Australia’s tour to South Africa in 2014 and he pounced on the opportunity with a solid and gritty 148 at Centurion. He was comfortable against a potent pace attack of South Africa, and made the opportunity count with a big ton.

This time he did not get injured but his bat stopped irking runs. He was dropped after making a pair in the following Test. It is, without any doubt, not easy to please the selectors and it gets tougher, when a player is competing for a spot in Australian side. Their selectors churn out the best and do not compromise at any stage. This is one of the reasons of their consistent dominance in world cricket. Full Cricket Updates, Sri Lanka vs Australia, 3rd Test

Another instance when he got a look back into the team was when then skipper Michael Clarke injured himself in Australia’s home Test series against India in 2014. He made it count, again, with a rock solid 99. He did not get a hundred but spent enough time at the crease to frustrate the Indians. Whenever he has spent some time at the crease, he has made it count and looked in complete control of his innings. He has got four Test tons, with the latest coming on Day Three against Sri Lanka in the ongoing Test, and looked unscathed with the willow. Going back to 2015, his only appearance in the last Ashes was when he let the team down with scores of 0 and 2.

What all does he need to work at?

Things started to look awry for Mitchell Marsh’s elder brother again but he came back in the historic and inaugural day-night Test played at the picturesque ground of Adelaide versus New Zealand. In a nail biting encounter, he stood firm against a moving pink ball with a vital 49 in Australia’s successful chase in the final innings. His start and stop career is certainly what he must not have carved for. His average still stands at 40.80, which is not ominous by any level, but still not upto the mark. He has improved a tad bit against spin, but gone out of ideas against the swinging ball, like in Ashes 2015. If not that, he gets injured to make matters worse for him. He definitely needs to carry his good form for long as when he gets going, he settles for nothing less than a big ton. ALSO READ: Day Report: Sri Lanka trail Australia by 2 runs with 9 wickets left

Another important aspect where he needs to work on is his fitness and fielding standards. He is not a great fielder, by any standards, or let’s say, by Australian standards. There is no escape route to fielding and he needs to pull up his socks as a fielder. His fitness is not great as he falls prey to injuries more often than not.

A rigorous run in the Test team is what he required from him. Australia do not have a regular partner along with David Warner and he can be that. He has the knack of scoring big, when he gets going. A few changes, here and there, is what is required from him to scale up the heights in Tests. ALSO READ Marsh scores 4th Test ton on Day 3 of 3rd Test vs SL

(Aditya Sahay is a journalist with CricketCountry who is completely into sports and loves writing about cricket in general. He can be followed on Twitter at adisahay7)