DIZZY: Marsh brothers to answer critics in first Test

Jason Gillespie Columnist

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    There's room for either Mitch or Shaun Marsh in the Aussie side, but not both. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

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    The first Test at the WACA begins with both Marsh brothers in the Australian side after question marks in the media about their respective positions.

    The question marks surrounded Shaun more for fitness reasons, and Mitch due to concerns about his output as an all rounder, specifically his batting at number 6.

    Critics of Shaun will say he has underachieved somewhat over his career. An average of 40 with four centuries from 18 Tests suggest a pretty decent return. There was a bit of conjecture about who would get the nod between Marsh and Joe Burns for the first test.

    I would suggest that whichever way the selectors went they would have copped criticism. Marsh scored runs in his last Test innings and obviously the selectors felt this warranted inclusion straight up.

    Shaun has had his fair share of injury trouble. Mainly hamstring and back trouble and in recent times a broken finger. He works at looking after himself as best he can with his back, and hopefully this will minimise the back and hamstring issues he has had to deal with during his career.

    He is a very laid back and popular character within the Australian and WA dressing rooms. He is also incredibly popular in the north of India, where he has represented Kings X1 Punjab in the IPL with distinction. I sensed there was a bit of a superstitious side to Shaun when I was an assistant coach at Kings X1 in 2011. He asked me for some throw downs before a match and proceeded to score runs that game.

    The following games he sought me out on a number of occasions to throw him 10 or so balls to hit even if he had prepared beforehand. This made me smile – it was the sort of thing I used to do in my playing days!

    From what I have seen, the selectors like Shaun’s relaxed yet focussed demeanour, which is of real benefit in a cricket environment. Long days, time on the road. Knowing when to switch on and off.

    Australian batsman Shaun Marsh reacts after scoring a century

    He has made important contributions in challenging situations as well and on the back of his work in Sri Lanka and in the most recent round of Shield matches, I can see why he has got first crack at his home ground of the WACA. He knows that a very good player in Joe Burns is waiting in the wings so he understands that he will need to perform.

    Mitchell, or ‘Bison’ as he is known, is rightly thought of very highly by the Australian hierarchy. An attacking middle order player and bustling seamer, he is an exciting all round option for Australia. He is currently being afforded a good run of it in the Test side, however comments by Rod Marsh suggest that the selectors are starting to lose patience with young Mitch.

    Two scores of 50 plus from 18 Tests is a modest return and Mitch will be the first to admit he needs runs.

    The danger is for him to focus too much on the end result i.e. number of runs. Instead, he should channel his focus and energy into the things that allow him to score runs.

    This could include routines, gameplans and scoring opportunities against each bowler, understanding conditions and watching the ball. If he focuses on his processes as opposed to the end result he will give himself the best chance of doing well.

    As for Mitch’s bowling, I believe it is coming along very nicely. Critics will argue that 27 wickets in 18 Tests isn’t what’s needed. Looking a bit deeper gives us a bit more of an understanding and suggested areas of improvement.

    First off, Mitch is playing as fourth seamer so he won’t bowl as many overs usually as the three front line quicks. His strike rate of 62 is good. If he is bowling 15 overs a match it’s no surprise he is averaging less than two wickets per Test!

    Where I suggest he can make an improvement is with his economy rate. Mitch is skilful enough to improve his discipline with his line and length and bring that economy rate down from 3.51 runs per over.

    He can be the seamer that Steve Smith can rely on to go for a wicket if the game is drifting as well as control the run rate. A ten per cent improvement will be noticeable and it is well within Mitch’s grasp to achieve that.

    The Marsh lads are two fine Australian cricketers that are primed for big summers in the Baggy Green.

    Jason Gillespie
    Jason Gillespie

    After taking 259 wickets in 71 Tests to become Australia's sixth highest wicket-taker, Jason Gillespie has remained involved in cricket, coaching the likes of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the Adelaide Strikers. Follow Jason on Twitter @Dizzy259.