Like most, I was baffled at the decision to include Shaun Marsh in the squad for the inaugural day-night Test. And even after his gritty and timely 49 played a big part in securing victory on Sunday evening, I’m still not convinced.
I’m sure many would share my fear of him producing some bigger scores against the West Indies and justifying his place in the side even longer.
Although I wouldn’t guarantee it. Despite how raw and brittle this West Indian batting may prove to be this series, we know their bowling attack can at least be classified as international quality (for the sake of the contest I hope).
Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach, in particular, may cause some havoc, Jason Holder bowls tidy medium pace as a third seamer, and while Devandra Bishoo mightn’t be the absolute best spinner the Caribbean has to offer, he’s impressed since debuting in 2011.
This attack will have plenty of work to do in the coming weeks and will need to be mighty effective to give their side any chance.
With Mitchell Marsh’s struggles with the bat in this series, it’s common knowledge right now that he simply needs runs, despite how much of an impact he has had with the ball – especially in the second innings at Adelaide when his side had one less quick bowling option. But his ability to score has dried up horrendously for someone wishing to be considered a genuine number six at Test level.
I’m not sure if I’d play both Marsh brothers in Hobart or any of the West Indies matches for that matter. And I wish to put forward one name that has been thrown around every now again on this site – Callum Ferguson.
A batting candidate in a good patch of form to bolster the middle order right now would be tempting. Not only does Ferguson have international experience under his belt since 2009 (30 ODIs and three Twenty20s), he has been tracking along beautifully this summer at domestic level.
Fresh off a sublime double-century earning him man of the match honours against a Tasmanian attack not to be sneezed at – featuring Hobart Test hopeful Jackson Bird, Andrew Fekete, and exciting young quick Sam Rainbird – Ferguson’s Test dream may never be fulfilled if it doesn’t happen soon.
Prior to the superb knock down in Hobart, his numbers in the Sheffield Shield have admittedly been nothing too outstanding – his 96 against New South Wales the only score above 40 in the next month to follow. But his unsuccessful shot at another first-class hundred was a classy knock against a Test match strength Blues attack, and a couple of well-compiled half-centuries in the Matador Cup haven’t hurt him either.
When set Ferguson can be a quite gorgeous and easy batsman to watch, with a complete array of shots, and he is the type of clever batsman that can adjust this to any format.
Injuries along the journey have never helped his ambitions to play Test cricket, yet his form flourished in both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 domestic seasons, with a Sheffield Shield average touching 50.
And what would it also mean? A batsman picked in the national Test side with a first-class average in the 40s. We know this isn’t always the case.
Selecting anyone over 30 can be a gamble, and Ferguson is now 31 and someone who it feels like has honestly been around forever. But if anything it’s been a maturing process for a man who is now ready to take the next step up.
At 31 Ferguson even finds himself slightly younger than Shaun Marsh, and Mike Hussey showed all of us that being a late bloomer isn’t uncommon.