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If Australia need a fifth bowling option, Mitch Marsh is about the only option

Chris Kettlewell Roar Guru

By Chris Kettlewell, Chris Kettlewell is a Roar Guru

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    Here we go again… It seems the selectors just can’t look past any option to select a Marsh in the Test team.

    First we have the shock selection of Shaun, and now younger brother Mitch has been pulled into the squad.

    Much has been said about this, and much more will. He’s not up to Test level, he’s not a top six batsman. If he’s any chance to be he needs a few more years.

    Unfortunately, this is where we find ourselves at the moment. Australia has gotten through the first two Tests comfortably with just a four-man bowling attack and done well.

    However, there is now the worry coming that with the WACA having turned into an even-paced road instead of the fast, bouncy, fast bowlers paradise of previous years, that having just four bowlers in a match that may be England’s best chance to avoid defeat by just having both teams score 600 plus as it dwindles out to a draw could be a real risk for the three fast bowlers in the team – so despite the success of the four man bowling attack, the fifth bowling option suddenly comes up as a requirement.

    Enter Mitchel Ross Marsh. And enter all the calls of “No, not him again.”

    Mitch Marsh of Australia

    (AAP Image/David Mariuz)

    So let’s look around the Sheffield Shield in search of alternate fifth bowling options for Australia.

    For pace bowling allrounders we have Marcus Stoinis, Moises Henriques, Hilton Cartwright and Mitch Marsh. Really nobody else is realistically in the picture.

    Henriques has done really well with the bat in recent seasons, but hasn’t bowled much, this season he’s in really poor form with bat and ball, and I doubt there are too many people who think he should get the nod.

    Stoinis has shown some good things in ODIs for Australia, but has only played sporadically this season and has barely bowled, yet to take a wicket, and hasn’t exactly been on fire with the bat.

    Cartwright had a good season last year with the bat, but this year he’s struggled a lot more to back that up. And he’s really little more than a part-time medium pacer.

    Mitch Marsh has a first class bowling average of under 30, making him a legitimate bowling option, and while his career average with the bat is a lot less than we’d like, he is in some current form averaging 44 for the season so far.

    But what about spin options? Specifically what about Maxwell?

    Maxwell has definitely done plenty to put himself forward as the next batsman in line for the Test side. Unfortunately, where he was once considered a genuine all-round option, in recent years he has bowled less and less at all levels and he can be considered little more than a batsman who bowls part-time off-spin these days.

    In five Shield rounds he’s bowled a total of 56 overs and taken 1/160. As someone to bowl a decent number of overs at the WACA and keep the pressure on the batsmen, he’s not really a viable option.

    There are a few other allround options in Shield cricket, but none of them that can be considered genuine test bowling options or genuine top 6 batting options.

    Many people have spoken of Ashton Turner from WA as a potentially really good allrounder, but this season he’s played all 5 games for WA and hasn’t bowled a ball.

    We are simply pretty short of options in the allrounder department at the moment in Australia. And if there is a need for a fifth bowler because the pitch is likely to be a high scoring road, then Mitch Marsh’s name simply shines as the only player who can viably fill that position.

    Shaun Marsh reacts with brother Mitchell

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    He probably needs a season or two in the Shield (maybe with a County contract during the offseason) to build his batting technique into a genuine top six batting option, but unfortunately, the need is now, and we can’t wait 2 years and then time-travel him back to now, so we have to take whatever option we have now.

    Maxwell may be the leading contender for a top six batting position at the moment, but he’s no longer an allrounder, and even less so one who could be effective at the WACA.

    Picking Mitch Marsh may seem like a risky Hail Mary play, but it’s probably the only one we’ve got at the moment.

    And with the rest of the top six feeling a bit more solid, and Cummins adding batting strength to the tail, we are probably better positioned to risk him in the middle order than we have been for a while.

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    The Crowd Says (120)

    • December 9th 2017 @ 4:03am
      Luke Ringland said | December 9th 2017 @ 4:03am | ! Report

      I wonder what is behind this dearth of bowling all rounders right now. Is it just swings and roundabouts? But I also wonder if the utility of the batting all rounder, or failing this, the handy part timer is being overlooked by captains at the Shield level.

      We don’t necessarily need an Andrew Flintoff, or even a Watson or Kallis level bowler. Someone on the level of Steve Waugh or Greg Blewett would do the job. Are we really saying there is no solidly above 40 average batsman who can roll them over at Steve Waugh quality floating around?

      But in some ways it sounds like we do have someone: Mitchell Marsh currently averages above 40 with bat and below 30 with the ball, which actually places him in the top level of All Rounders. There have been plenty of players who have needed multiple cracks at the top level who eventually became solid, or even great, test players.

      • December 9th 2017 @ 1:47pm
        Mitcher said | December 9th 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

        I don’t disagree at all that many have failed in the past and come back stronger to show their worth at Test level.

        For me though, it’s fine to quote Mitch’s first class record, but his horrendous test batting record on the back of a stunningly generous 21 (?) chances says it all. He’s bowled really well when thrown the ball but I don’t see a universe where the minimal overs bowled cancel out his atrocious returns at 6. There is no reality where this guy is a test quality 6. At this point in time. Who knows down the track, but I don’t see it.

        Call me old fashioned but geez I yearn for the days when you get dropped (did injury save him from the axe; anyway, he was flailing) that you absolutely have to smash out the performances for at very lest the lions share of a domestic season. Times have changed of course, but again the frustration from many is surely another Marsh seemingly given a rail run back into the mix without any sustained performance.

        • Roar Guru

          December 9th 2017 @ 1:57pm
          jeznez said | December 9th 2017 @ 1:57pm | ! Report

          How many overs has Marsh bowled since surgery?

          What gives the selectors confidence he won’t break down himself?

      • December 9th 2017 @ 9:19pm
        Steve said | December 9th 2017 @ 9:19pm | ! Report

        He must be hitting them really hard in the nets

      • December 10th 2017 @ 5:48pm
        the Shafe said | December 10th 2017 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

        too much One Day and T20 develops the ‘quasi’ allrounder in lieu of the genuine allrounder.

    • Roar Rookie

      December 9th 2017 @ 4:10am
      Maxwell Charlesworth said | December 9th 2017 @ 4:10am | ! Report

      Travis Head, bit better with the ball than Maxi, in good nick with the bat aswell. Or drop petey handscomb and bring in another Quick, not Bird, preferably raw pace. I know slim pickings but still

      • December 9th 2017 @ 7:19am
        Gav said | December 9th 2017 @ 7:19am | ! Report

        I agree.
        Yet Head doesn’t seem to even be discussed.

      • Roar Guru

        December 9th 2017 @ 8:14am
        Chris Kettlewell said | December 9th 2017 @ 8:14am | ! Report

        At first class level Head barely bowls any more than Maxi. So far this season he’s got 3 wickets @97. And his batting is still very sporadic at first class level. He finally got a bit of a road to bat on in the last shield match and got his first decent results of the season with a hundred and a 50, before that he’d not done much, and still has an overall first class average of 35. For someone who’s bowling is purely part time, he needs to be doing a lot more with the batting.

        • December 10th 2017 @ 12:29am
          Mitcher said | December 10th 2017 @ 12:29am | ! Report

          In my own personal view, two innings does not a recall maketh after sustained and thunderous failings over 21(!!!) test matches.

      • December 9th 2017 @ 12:11pm
        Jameswm said | December 9th 2017 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

        Disagree that Head is better with the ball than Maxi. It’s at best line ball.

    • December 9th 2017 @ 4:39am
      Andrew said | December 9th 2017 @ 4:39am | ! Report

      Nice read Chris. As I mentioned in yesterday’s article, Maxi brings a more stable batting option. Maxi’s job isn’t to take a wicket, merely a rest spell for the quick bowlers. I think this is where a few lean towards MM, they want a 5th wicket taker. The few problems with this is that he hasn’t bowled much recently due to his shoulder and also he is a weaker bat than Maxi. The question I will ask you is, without MM, can our bowlers take 20 wickets? My answer is everytime. So Maxi is the stronger batting choice.

      • Roar Guru

        December 9th 2017 @ 5:33am
        Camo McD said | December 9th 2017 @ 5:33am | ! Report

        Agreed, Marsh has no bowling form to speak of which makes the selection even more bizarre. If one of the other bowlers did get injured, Marsh would probably bowl his quota of 8-12 overs and then be withdrawn from the attack as an injury prevention strategy. At least Maxi could wheel through 20+ overs per day if needed.

        • December 9th 2017 @ 9:03am
          Keggas said | December 9th 2017 @ 9:03am | ! Report

          The thought of what the poms score might be after Maxwell has bowled 20 overs is truly frightening!

          • Roar Guru

            December 9th 2017 @ 11:39am
            Rellum said | December 9th 2017 @ 11:39am | ! Report

            The current Pommie line up of left-handers might struggle more than most with Maxi turning it away from them, assuming he gets it to turn. Especially given their reluctance to attack.

            Maxi might actually buy us a few wickets if we get the field right as they might see it as the perfect chance to open up.

          • December 9th 2017 @ 11:42am
            Andrew said | December 9th 2017 @ 11:42am | ! Report

            The thought of MM doing his non 100% fit shoulder and missing the whole test is scarier.

            • December 9th 2017 @ 11:45am
              Don Freo said | December 9th 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

              His shoulder is 100% fit. That’s why it took so long to ease him back.

              There is a strange line of thought that the injury is still there.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 11:53am
                Andrew said | December 9th 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

                A 13 over game is not fit. What if he has to bowl 2x 25 overs? Every chance he may break down.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 1:26pm
                Nudge said | December 9th 2017 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

                Far out, how long are the poms batting for? 180 overs per innings

          • Roar Rookie

            December 9th 2017 @ 10:11pm
            JamesH said | December 9th 2017 @ 10:11pm | ! Report

            Keggas, if our fifth bowler has to bowl 20 overs then we’re probably not winning anyway.

          • December 10th 2017 @ 12:31am
            Mitcher said | December 10th 2017 @ 12:31am | ! Report

            Understand you haven’t commented on Marsh here, but the thought of our own score if the statistical worst 6 in test cricket history bats at 6.

            • December 10th 2017 @ 1:03am
              Doctor Rotcod said | December 10th 2017 @ 1:03am | ! Report

              However, while he is batting at 4 according to cricket.com
              ” In his past six JLT Sheffield Shield knocks, the 26-year-old has registered scores of 95, 28, 141, 11, 43 and 38no to be WA’s second-highest run-getter behind Test opener Cameron Bancroft.”

              Perhaps the selectors are looking at his Sheffield Shield scores of this season batting up the order. I think he’s a season too early for a recall myself. Wait until he’s had a good go at Surrey, but I don’t know where they’ll bat him. He will have Michael de Venuto as coach so that should help

      • December 9th 2017 @ 9:43am
        Kangajets said | December 9th 2017 @ 9:43am | ! Report

        Agree Maxwell in for Handscomb. Maxwell can bowl enough overs to give the quick bowlers a break .

        • Roar Rookie

          December 9th 2017 @ 10:19pm
          JamesH said | December 9th 2017 @ 10:19pm | ! Report

          Exactly. The premise that we need a genuine bowler as the fifth option is a flawed one. *If* we need a fifth bowler it’s purely to rest our quicks and tie up an end, which Maxwell is perfectly capable of doing.

          Marsh is definitely a better bowler (assuming his shoulder is 100%) but history says he won’t bowl enough overs to justify his selection over someone who offers more with the bat. We’re talking an absolute maximum of 10-12 overs in an innings, and that would only happen if the poms were belting us around or someone got injured.

    • Roar Guru

      December 9th 2017 @ 7:07am
      Dutski said | December 9th 2017 @ 7:07am | ! Report

      Need another bowler? Then play another bowler. Bird, Sayers, pick who you like. Drop Hansconbe, put Paine at 6, Cummins at 7 and off you go.
      When you’re batting Starc at 8 you still bat way deep. You end up with a considerably better bowling option than Marsh and still plenty of batting. The idea of needing a bowling all rounder is a furphy. Just pick your best 11 and no, Marsh- despite his good batting form, is not in the best half dozen batters or bowlers.

      • Roar Guru

        December 9th 2017 @ 8:17am
        Chris Kettlewell said | December 9th 2017 @ 8:17am | ! Report

        When batting has been so much of an issue it’s hard to understand how people are suggesting replacing a top 6 batsman with someone who’s #11 quality. If you were talking someone like Pattinson who could average 30 with the bat that might be workable, but you can’t go for someone of similar batting ability to Lyon or Hazlewood.

        • Roar Guru

          December 9th 2017 @ 9:09am
          Dutski said | December 9th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

          Normally I’d agree but for a couple of issues.
          1. England hasn’t taken 20 wickets in the two tests that best suit swing bowling, so how likely are they to on a road in Perth?
          2. Currently Handscomb is averaging 20 over 3 innings. Yes he’s capable of much more, but if he bats as he had been than replacing him with Lyon or Hazlewood capability isn’t a massive step down.
          3. Marsh may be quick, but he’s not a noted wicket taker. Yes, he’s giving the bowlers a rest, but it’s taking the pressure off. 100% of batters would rather face Marsh than Sayers or Bird.
          4. The 40 runs per wicket that Marsh concedes more than offsets any advantage in batting averages.
          Add all that up and I’d definitely pick a specialist bowler for this Test for sure.

      • December 9th 2017 @ 9:33am
        dangertroy said | December 9th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

        I totally agree. If the reason we need another bowler is because the pitch will be a road that doesn’t offer the bowlers much, then surely it’s easier for a bowler to bat on for a while. In Starc and Cummins, we have two really handy lower order batsman, even Lyon can hold down an end if required.
        That being said, in this situation, why not pick Mitch marsh? He’s a more than capable bowler and his batting is a bonus. When bowling at full fitness he can match Hazlewood for pace also.

        • Roar Guru

          December 9th 2017 @ 9:46am
          Dutski said | December 9th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

          One or two matches bowling after shoulder surgery wouldn’t count as full fitness in my books. Why not pick Marsh? Why pick a more than handy option who’s not 100% when you can pick a high quality bowler and keep the foot on the throat of a struggling batting lineup?

    • December 9th 2017 @ 7:13am
      Yowie said | December 9th 2017 @ 7:13am | ! Report

      What a ridiculous article! I was waiting for the punchline but unfortunately the author, and the Australian alleged selectors, are serious!
      There is a nation of better options Chris, batting and bowling, so don’t try to pull the wool over our eyes with this pro-Marsh, anti-Maxi (or anyone else) spin.
      ” His name simply shines…”
      Get off it mate.

    • Roar Guru

      December 9th 2017 @ 7:18am
      DingoGray said | December 9th 2017 @ 7:18am | ! Report

      Absolute garbage Chris…..

      There’s a certain Jack Wildermuth would be a perfect option!

      He’s actually in form as well. Scoring runs and taking wickets!

      I don’t doubt Mitch Marsh ability, but he’s bowled in 1 game with a total of 13 overs.
      If they are legitimately looking another bowler to bowl 6-12 overs an innings it shouldn’t be Marsh
      just on the fact he’s not done the workload to be a strong contributer.

      It was a perfect opportunity for NSP to introduce more new blood to the Test side.
      And we go back previously tried and minimal success Marsh…..

      • December 9th 2017 @ 7:55am
        Pedro the Maroon said | December 9th 2017 @ 7:55am | ! Report

        100%. A better all rounder than M Marsh could ever dream of being. Scores a 50 or take a 5-for every other match. Currently averaging about 32 with the bat and about 22 with the ball. Those are proper all-rounder figures.
        Marsh scores a ton and all of a sudden he’s the Messiah. The man has a shoulder injury and has taken 1 wicket. How can be be considered a bowling option for a 5 day match. Weird stuff.

      • Roar Guru

        December 9th 2017 @ 8:24am
        Chris Kettlewell said | December 9th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

        Yeah, the guy who averages 30 with the bat and 28 with the ball overall and 44 with the bat so far this season isn’t good enough, so we should go with the guy who averages 27 with the bat and 28 with the ball overall and 31 so far this season with the bat because he’s clearly better and in better form.

        • December 9th 2017 @ 9:04am
          Rob JM said | December 9th 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

          Selective use of stats.
          Wildermuth has taken 14 wickets at 25 this season vs Marsh 2 wickets at 48.
          In the last two games Wildermuth has averaged 87 with the bat vs Marsh 77.

          Their career averages are pretty similar
          Wildermuth bat 27.9 bowl 28.4
          Marsh 30.1 and 28.9

          Marsh is returning from injury and has zero bowling form. If they do need a genuine pace bowling allrounder then Wildermuth is a viable and non injured option.

          • Roar Guru

            December 9th 2017 @ 1:26pm
            Chris Kettlewell said | December 9th 2017 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

            Right, so at best Wildermuth is about the same as Mitch Marsh. So I hardly see how that could be used to say he’s a perfect option and Marsh is an insane option.

            • December 9th 2017 @ 4:03pm
              DaveJ said | December 9th 2017 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

              Agree. Marsh is a stupid option, but Wildermuth is even stupider. How anyone can be talking about having a no.6 who can only average 27 or 30 in first class cricket is beyond belief – except when you’re losing the series and desperate to win, but even then probably only on the sub-continent to play two spinners. And it’ll actually be just as bad if Marsh scores a few runs – it’ll be hard to drop him and revert to playing a proper team with a proper number 6. Just because someone scores some runs in one innings doesn’t mean he is likely to do so enough times in the future before it all ends in tears again.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 4:17pm
                Don Freo said | December 9th 2017 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

                You use the word, ‘stupid’ a lot here.

                It is an apt description for most of your comments.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 4:53pm
                Basil said | December 9th 2017 @ 4:53pm | ! Report

                Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Why must you criticise those that have an alternate one to yourself?

              • December 9th 2017 @ 6:49pm
                Don Freo said | December 9th 2017 @ 6:49pm | ! Report

                I think you’ll find it was Dave who was criticizing everyone that didn’t agree with him.

                Once you correct that reading error and things still offend you, here’s a hint. Don’t read it. That will save you a great sdeal of discomfort.

                On the topic itself, if some choose to criticize selectors or players on an opinion column, don’t be surprised when those who hold a different opinion actually take the opportunity to express it. That’s how it works, Basil.

              • December 9th 2017 @ 11:04pm
                Basil said | December 9th 2017 @ 11:04pm | ! Report

                You’re accusing Dave of what you are guilty of yourself.

              • December 10th 2017 @ 1:56am
                Don Freo said | December 10th 2017 @ 1:56am | ! Report

                And what is that?

                You seem to be out of your depth…and out of your tree.

                A fairly pointless thread of comments there, Bas.

            • Roar Guru

              December 10th 2017 @ 8:11am
              Michael Keeffe said | December 10th 2017 @ 8:11am | ! Report

              I think if they are about the same Chris then surely Wildermuth would get the nod. He hasn’t been afforded the opportunities at test level and failed and he’s bowled more than 22 overs after a long term shoulder injury which is what Marsh has done.

              I wouldn’t pick either in the team, but if your logic is to pick Marsh because we need a fifth bowling option, I would agree with the guys above and go with Wildermuth. He’s a genuine second change quick bowling option and can’t be any worse than Marsh’s test record of 21 with the bat.

              Otherwise we pick a genuine bat in Maxwell or Cartwrigth who can bowl a few extra overs 5 – 10 max throughout the day. Either way no matter how flat the WACA is I think we’re seriously overestimating England’s ability to bat for 150 overs.

          • December 10th 2017 @ 2:17am
            Don Freo said | December 10th 2017 @ 2:17am | ! Report

            Now THAT is a selective misuse of stats.

        • December 9th 2017 @ 9:20am
          JohnB said | December 9th 2017 @ 9:20am | ! Report

          Why does DG have to point to someone who is clearly better and in better form when you list the likes of Henriques and Stoinis as possible alternatives? Cartwright is a better batsman than he’s currently showing so it’s fair enough to list him, but not even mentioning Wildermuth (who has taken wickets and scored runs – though not enough – this season) as a prospect is an odd decision on your part.

        • Roar Guru

          December 9th 2017 @ 9:28am
          DingoGray said | December 9th 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

          Never said he wasn’t good enough.

          He hasn’t done enough to be considered for the Test side. A good dig with the bat, yes.
          But he’s going into the Team as 5th bowler. He’s coming off numerous injuries. Has bowled
          in one FC game.

          He’s now considered right to go for a Test? Give it a rest!

          For you to claim he’s the only option, is absolutely and utterly false!

          Wildermuth is viable option. Who’s got plenty of overs in him, and as I said in good form.

      • December 9th 2017 @ 10:20am
        Linphoma said | December 9th 2017 @ 10:20am | ! Report

        Wildermuth’s numbers are good. I just wish I could have watched some Shield somewhere to confirm any pretensions to being The Real Deal in allrounders.

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