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How did Marsh get picked over White?

Australia's Cameron White is back on national duty. (AAP Image/NZPA, Wayne Drought)
Expert
20th January, 2014
281
4357 Reads

Cameron White has probably played his last Test for Australia. That is a dramatic statement.

But it is far from sensationalist when you consider that he turns 31 this year and has just been overlooked by the national selectors in favour of a player the same age whose form has been abominable by comparison in Shaun Marsh.

White has scored the second most runs in the Sheffield Shield this summer, with 556 at an average of 51 for Victoria.

In the Ryobi Cup, he was third on the run scoring list and also had the highest average of any batsman, with 387 runs at 77.

Meanwhile, in the Big Bash League, White has again been a standout performer, with 197 runs at 39 for the Melbourne Stars.

All this suggests he is in perhaps the hottest form of his 13-year career.

Yet on Monday he missed out on Australia’s Test squad to tour South Africa for Marsh, who has made just 692 runs at 21 in first-class cricket since the start of the 2011-12 season.

Marsh is not in denial about his struggles at first-class level, having recently described his Shield performances as “really inconsistent”.

In justifying Marsh’s inclusion, Australian chairman of selectors John Inverarity said that he had “the technique and potential to do well”.

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“Potential” is a word that has become synonymous with Marsh.

Ever since he made his Shield debut for Western Australia as a 17-year-old we have been hearing about his “potential”.

But 13 years on surely it is time to judge Marsh on something more tangible than “potential”.

Over that long period of playing first-class cricket he has scored just eight centuries amid a poor return of 4,764 runs at an average of 35.

Inverarity claimed Marsh was highly-skilled against fast bowling and had a game “well suited to facing South Africa in South Africa”.

The Proteas currently boast one of the greatest pace ensembles in Test history.

If Marsh is capable of taming them, then why has he floundered the past two years while facing far lesser quicks on surfaces not as difficult as the seaming decks typically served up in South Africa?

In his last Test series, at home against India two summers ago, Marsh was bamboozled by India’s tame pace battery.

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Despite Australia crushing India 4-0, Marsh could not handle the pressure and surrendered meekly in all of his six innings.

He scored just 17 runs at 2.83. Seventeen runs in six innings.

Of those dismissals, five were against India’s fast bowlers.

Of course, one bad series such as that should not necessarily end the career of a then 28-year-old.

If he went back to first-class level and piled up runs then by all means he should be considered again for Test selection.

However, Marsh has done nothing of the sort.

Since being dropped after his comical efforts against India he has been consistently poor in the Shield and for Australia A.

Meanwhile, Cameron White, who made his Shield debut in 2000-01, the same season as Marsh, can point to 18 first-class centuries and a career average of 41.

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He has chalked up 1,066 Shield runs at 43 since the start of last summer.

Not to mention that White offers leadership qualities, something Inverarity spruiked regularly when explaining the selection of George Bailey in the Test side.

White remarkably was made captain of Victoria at the age of 20 – the youngest skipper in the state’s history.

He handed the reins over to Matthew Wade this summer.

But by then he had led Victoria for a decade during which they won two Shield titles, four T20 titles and six times made the final of the domestic 50-over competition.

In a recent piece for The Roar I argued Australia should prepare for generational change by selecting youngsters Chris Lynn and Nic Maddinson as the backup batsmen for the Tests in South Africa.

I still believe that would have been the prudent decision.

But if you are going to select a 30-year-old batsman to don the baggy green, White should be the obvious choice, not Marsh.

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