When picking an Australian top six for the upcoming series against New Zealand, one could argue the only locks in this batting line-up are newly appointed captain and vice-captain Steve Smith and David Warner.
It seems four of Adam Voges, Usman Khawaja, Joe Burns, Cameron Bancroft and Shaun Marsh will be fitted in the remaining places.
And I, like many, think Australia can do better than play Shaun Marsh.
He is in a good patch of form at present, slashing big scores all around New South Wales in the Domestic One-Day Cup, and we know the increased impact that 50-over runs has had on the selectors in recent years.
Yet is this really a surprise? We have known for a long time what a dangerous limited-overs batsman Marsh is, and this preparation isn’t quite the same as facing Trent Boult and Tim Southee raring to go with a swinging Kookaburra in hand.
While he filled the void for Chris Rogers in the two Tests in the Caribbean earlier this year, his sole appearance in the Ashes saw him out for 0 and 2 in the fourth Test. Granted he wasn’t the only one who failed, as Australia wilted for just 60 in the first innings.
Marsh’s biggest deficiencies at Test level have been handling the ball when it is swinging on and around his off stump, and getting himself past 20 or 30. Once he gets himself set he can be very hard to stop, looking super classy and fashionable. However, while Marsh can get himself in, he can just as easily get himself out.
Marsh has never really nailed down a spot in the Australian top six, being drafted in and out time and again depending on need or injuries.
At 32 years of age, how much longer will he be persisted with, and how many more chances will he get? I understand he has only played 15 Tests, yet his paltry average of 33 is skewed by the fact he has scored two big centuries. Most of his other numbers don’t make for exciting reading. He has posted 17 scores of less than 20, and 11 single-figure scores, seven of which have been without scoring. It’s easy to be blinded by his numbers on face value.
The Australian selectors must go with youth, and while they will, they would be better not including Marsh. A pick-and-stick approach is the only way now. Warner, Smith and Voges will provide experience and stability, in the three remaining spots let’s see what some others, even untried ones, can do.
Yet despite my personal preference that the selectors not pick Marsh, I believe they will. Widely known as a favourite of the selectors for some time now, his regular failures don’t seem to phase the selection committee.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some exciting aspects of Marsh’s game; his classy style and range of shots mean he is capable of just about anything. He can make batting look easy when he is set, in a similar way Mark Waugh once did. But please don’t think I’m even vaguely comparing the two. Marsh’s continual weaknesses leave him vulnerable and perhaps out of his depth at Test level.
Marsh made some solid contributions last summer, albeit against an at times pedestrian and lifeless Indian attack. His 99 at the MCG deserved to be a hundred before he was run out.
The selectors have maintained a fascination with Marsh and his alleged potential, which is becoming irrelevant in 2015 as Marsh is 32. He has made a handful of large scores in the One-Day Cup – perhaps the selectors’ most useful tool. He has played a fair chunk of Test cricket in the last 12 months so will, in the selectors’ minds, add experience to the batting order, as the prospect of Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja all in the same top six leave it looking a little green.
I would not like to see Shaun Marsh in the XI when the first ball is bowled at the Gabba on November 5.
But I think we will.