Why Shaun Marsh at six is a good idea
In recent years, the position of number six in Australia’s batting line-up has been a contentious issue, with many players not being able to hold down that position.
Since Simon Katich was first dropped in 2005, there have been six different players who have held the position – Shane Watson, Andrew Symonds, Brad Hodge, Michael Clarke, Andrew McDonald, Marcus North and most recently Steve Smith.
Admittedly, Watson and Clarke have secured positions higher in the order, and Andrew Symonds would still be Australia’s number six if he controlled his behaviour.
However, the inclusion of Steve Smith for the final three Tests of the last Ashes series showed how little depth we had in terms of middle order batting, considering he was played as a front-line spinner in the series against Pakistan.
The inclusion of Shaun Marsh in Australia’s Test squad against Sri Lanka signals the selectors’ intentions to put on hold the search for a batsman who is more than just a part-time bowler.
If Marsh is selected to bat at number six, this would be a smart move by a selection panel that has been criticised of late. Not only would Australia’s batting be strengthened, but it would force Michael Clarke to bowl himself more, which is a bonus due to his ability to unexpectedly take key opposition wickets.
Another positive with this selection is that Marsh is still a young man that is in good form for his state. This means that he will have time to become a fine Test batsman, as well as being ready for a possible move up the order later in his career.
In a way they are following the lead of the new world number one England, who has in-form batsman Ian Bell batting at six.
Bell, like Marsh, normally bats in the top four for his county side and in England’s one-day internationals. So he is handy for the Englishmen when their top order collapses, or when they need someone to bat with the tail.
Listen to Glenn Mitchell's preview of the Third Ashes Test in Perth at the WACA ground: