DIZZY: Marsh brothers to answer critics in first Test

Jason Gillespie Columnist

By Jason Gillespie, Jason Gillespie is a Roar Expert

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    Perth marks a perfect return for Mitchell Marsh. (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.

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    The Crowd Says (66)

    • Roar Guru

      November 1st 2016 @ 6:18am
      Tim Holt said | November 1st 2016 @ 6:18am | ! Report

      Shaun is an enigma. One could make the case that he is the most talented batsman Australia has had since Michael Clarke. Certainly the most complete with him able in all types of conditions. The first thing that enters my mind is the crucial aspect of the mental and how he maybe has not been quite strong enough in the mind that he needs to be. He has the technique and the skill but just needs a thorough self check-up from the neck up to fully turn potential into consistent performance

      Mitch, I can understand why he is being persisted with because he could transform the team. It is very like Andrew Symonds the sequel, the key difference and reason why the heat is coming so much on him is because the team Symonds was in was elite allowing him to be carried till he clicked ( lets face it, firstly it was carried by you 😉 ) with an awesome top 5 and Gilly averaging 50 at 7. In this side, particularly away from home the batting is so suspect and Nevills averages 20 odd at 7 meaning the acid comes on Marsh.

      I think his bowling has been very good and in fact under utilised by Smith as seen by him only averaging a paltry 7 overs an inning in SL. He could have been what Stokes was in Bangladesh for the Aussies with his reverse swing but no support from Smith. As for his batting, I think it would be facilitated if he was coming in at 7/8 in a more freer role with less reliance on him

      • November 1st 2016 @ 7:37am
        Jason Gillespie said | November 1st 2016 @ 7:37am | ! Report

        Admittedly, Nevill has not fired with the bat as yet in test cricket. In time I believe he will and this will be of benefit to the team obviously and Mitch who is in that all important number 6 position. Mitch is good enough- remember it took Steve Waugh 27 tests before his breakthrough ton. He turned out to be a decent player!

        • Roar Guru

          November 1st 2016 @ 7:45am
          Tim Holt said | November 1st 2016 @ 7:45am | ! Report

          I love Nevill, I remember touting him for the Baggy Green a few years back and you making my day by commenting on the article 🙂

          His skillset is that of a more than able top 6 batsman, been frustrating seeing his struggles

          In the case of M Marsh and you using S Waugh as a comparison-Call me ageist,but I think it was much tougher back in Waugh’s day, there are ‘no West Indies’ and less high quality bowlers now and the pitches are less demanding as a rule with the bats so much more advanced.

          Also Waugh entered the Aussie team when it was arguably at the lowest low in its history after losing to the Kiwis at home…..meaning he didnt have the support that Marsh has had

          • November 1st 2016 @ 7:57am
            Jason Gillespie said | November 1st 2016 @ 7:57am | ! Report

            Maybe so re Marsh to S Waugh, however a player can only play against the opponents he comes up against- and be judged on that.

            • Roar Guru

              November 1st 2016 @ 8:10am
              Tim Holt said | November 1st 2016 @ 8:10am | ! Report

              True enough, but by the same token you are afforded respect for when and where you perform and against the calibre of opposition.

              Waugh’s 90 odd at Perth in the early parts of his career against Ambrose/Marshall and patterson ( that guy was seriously scarey ) was one to hang your hat on for the future.

              As for Marsh, I thought his turning point was his valuable contribution in Adelaide last year but he keeps getting starts and then getting out in the 20/30’s. That is a cardinal sin as a batsman

              • November 1st 2016 @ 9:35am
                Rissole said | November 1st 2016 @ 9:35am | ! Report

                The other issue for both Mitch and Nevill is match situation. In most home tests (when the top order are filling their boots) Mitch and Nevill are getting a bat at 550/4 and are asked to bat for a declaration. Their other opportunities come when the top order collapse on a pitch offering a bit and the score is 90/4 or 90/5 and they have to bat with tail-enders (not the kind who score 201*).

            • November 2nd 2016 @ 1:54pm
              Chris Love said | November 2nd 2016 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

              That’s a fair call Jason, but remember that S Waugh pulled off some incredible 80’s/90’s against a great Windies side in that rare patch before his first ton and was in great ODI form with both bat and ball.

    • November 1st 2016 @ 6:37am
      Baz said | November 1st 2016 @ 6:37am | ! Report

      The downside for shaun is he is crap in australia all his big runs have come overseas and did have the 99 against the west indies though.

      Mitch struggles on figuring out ways to score sometimes. As he has played 18 tests this should not really be a problem anymore.

      However once in team i want them to smash the saffras 🙂

      He doesnt bowl well enough to be not in top 6

      He has been underbowled as well.


      • Roar Guru

        November 1st 2016 @ 6:54am
        The Bush said | November 1st 2016 @ 6:54am | ! Report

        Shaun knocked a massive century in Australia last summer. That 99 was against India.

        • November 1st 2016 @ 9:04am
          Don Freo said | November 1st 2016 @ 9:04am | ! Report

          WA is in Australia.

          He scored a ton and a 77 less than a week ago. What’s this “crap in Australia” stuff?

          • Roar Guru

            November 1st 2016 @ 3:58pm
            The Bush said | November 1st 2016 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

            Easy mate, I was correcting the record that S Marsh has in fact scored a ton in Aus in test match cricket.

            • November 1st 2016 @ 5:19pm
              Don Freo said | November 1st 2016 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

              I know. I was responding to Baz.

    • November 1st 2016 @ 6:42am
      Matthew H said | November 1st 2016 @ 6:42am | ! Report

      One can only hope, as to the outside observer Shaun is very lucky at the age of 33. No question of Mitch’s potential, would a couple of wickets or a good score give him more confidence? I don’t know but I suspect he is a bowler who bats so would like to see him start with bowling well.

    • Columnist

      November 1st 2016 @ 7:08am
      Ronan O'Connell said | November 1st 2016 @ 7:08am | ! Report

      For years I wasn’t fully convinced by Shaun Marsh but there is no denying he has been sensational in first-class cricket for the past two years and taken his opportunities in Tests.

      Mitch Marsh has impressed me with his batting against spin in Asia – his batting average of 33 from his five Tests in Asia is solid for an all-rounder and he looks calm and confident against spin as opposed to the panicked appearance of some others. Strangely enough, it has been pace bowling in familiar home conditions which has brought him undone.

      Really enjoying your contributions Jason.

      • November 1st 2016 @ 7:42am
        Jason Gillespie said | November 1st 2016 @ 7:42am | ! Report

        Cheers Ronan- as I’ve said, I like the fact the selectors have backed Mitch. All players who have gone on to have long careers with the test side have been given decent opportunities to settle in so to speak. The best tool selectors, captains and coaches have in their kit bag is the ability to show a player they believe in them….

        • Roar Guru

          November 1st 2016 @ 9:33am
          JamesH said | November 1st 2016 @ 9:33am | ! Report

          That last sentence is spot on, Dizzy, and it’s one of the reasons that I’ve been frustrated with selections in recent years. However, the same argument can be made in favour of Joe Burns’ inclusion. He had been doing a good job in a tough batting position (his ton in NZ was real Justin Langer stuff) and is now out of the side based on his performance in two tests on the subcontinent, which is about as far removed from home conditions as you can get.

          Voges and Khawaja failed too, yet they retained their places. I’m not suggesting that they need to be dropped but it looks as if Burns is the scapegoat for the poor Sri Lankan tour, when he probably needs faith from the selectors as much as anyone else does.

          • Roar Guru

            November 1st 2016 @ 9:48am
            Tim Holt said | November 1st 2016 @ 9:48am | ! Report

            Taking Jason’s spot on comment a bit further, you could cite Smith under bowling Marsh in SL could be seen as a lack of belief……

            the situation was perfect for Marsh, but only 7 overs per innings throughout the series

          • November 1st 2016 @ 11:06am
            Jason Gillespie said | November 1st 2016 @ 11:06am | ! Report

            Unfortunately someone has to miss out and in this instance it’s Joe who you can argue quite rightly deserves the opportunity.
            Not many better tests for a top order batsman currently in world cricket than facing a South African attack at the WACA.
            Let’s see how the Australian top 6 goes.

            • Roar Guru

              November 1st 2016 @ 1:52pm
              Magnus M. Østergaard said | November 1st 2016 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

              hopefully we are actually getting a match at the WACA and not an AO lookalike road

              • November 1st 2016 @ 7:44pm
                Rod said | November 1st 2016 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

                Will be interesting to see what track is offered up as we have had a very mild Spring here in Perth so far. WACA pitch is best as a 3rd Test deck, giving it time to bake in the hot sun. Mid 30s here on Saturday, but far from the usual weather the WACA would have had beforehand. Don’t be surprised that there will be a green deck on day one, and a slow, flat deck by mid day 3.

        • Roar Rookie

          November 1st 2016 @ 12:49pm
          Russell Neville said | November 1st 2016 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

          Nice Article Jason
          It seems to me that Mitch has been afforded a decent run in the test side simply because the Aussie selectors have traditionally been lenient with a half decent All-Rounder just like a half decent Left Arm quick. Finding a genuine All-Rounder to bat at six (pre Gilchrist) almost became an obsession of the selectors. We haven’t really had an outstanding All-Rounder since Richie Benaud and Keith Miller. Shane Watson wasn’t too shabby either. Sorry Jason but I am not sure that one score of 201* puts you into the All-Rounder status.

          • November 1st 2016 @ 1:59pm
            Jason Gillespie said | November 1st 2016 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

            Definitely not! Ha ha!

          • Roar Guru

            November 1st 2016 @ 5:22pm
            Rellum said | November 1st 2016 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

            Do you mean post Gilchrist?

            Because pre and during Gilchrist ( he has his on time scale now it seems) what had a specialist batsman at 6. Maybe only when Roy came into the team did that alter.

          • November 2nd 2016 @ 2:00pm
            Chris Love said | November 2nd 2016 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

            That’s funny! I would though like to see Jason’s thoughts on getting dropped after making a double century? Has that ever happened in the history of cricket?

            Is it true that you were dropped because you happen to be involved in a run out of the captain in the same innings?

            • November 3rd 2016 @ 10:47pm
              Jason Gillespie said | November 3rd 2016 @ 10:47pm | ! Report

              Rubbish. I only played on that tour due to injuries to a few key bowlers and the great man G McGrath being on personal leave.
              The next test after that tour was 6-7 months later- if I was a selector I probably would have made the same call.

    • Roar Guru

      November 1st 2016 @ 7:59am
      Martin Rocks said | November 1st 2016 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      Dizzy – I am intererested in the thoughts with having to have an all-rounder at 6? Shouldn’t we be looking at cementing a strong batting six? I thought the 5th bowling option in Sri Lanka was horribly under-utilised. While I agree M Marsh is a very promising bowler, he is not quite there yet for front-line action.

      • November 1st 2016 @ 8:09am
        Jason Gillespie said | November 1st 2016 @ 8:09am | ! Report

        Yep. 5th bowling option was probably under utilised in SL. Conditions were a factor yes. It won’t be under utilised in Australia I reckon.
        I agree, number 6 is an important position in the order. Australia need more from whoever bats there. Rod Marsh has made it clear from a selectors point of view that they need a return on their investment. Looking forward to the series!

        • Roar Guru

          November 1st 2016 @ 9:56am
          Martin Rocks said | November 1st 2016 @ 9:56am | ! Report

          Cheers Dizzy love your work as always too.

    • November 1st 2016 @ 8:27am
      brains of a bimbo (atgm) said | November 1st 2016 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      My predictions
      Sean will average around 40 with one big score and mitch wont be part of the squad for 3 test.aus will lose 2-0 or 2-1

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