Shaun Marsh’s breakthrough summer

David Holden Roar Guru

By David Holden, David Holden is a Roar Guru

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    Shaun Marsh will do something he has never done before when he steps on to the SCG turf at the start of the Sydney Test. For the first time he will play his fifth consecutive Test in Australia.

    If, as expected, he is selected in the Australian Test team for the first Test against South Africa in March, he will also break his best run of consecutive Test matches overall.

    Statistics tell part of the story. Before this series Marsh had averaged 34.3 runs over 41 innings. Seven innings later at the start of the Sydney Test his average had jumped to 38.4 runs. During this Ashes campaign Marsh has scored 289 runs at 57.8 runs.

    It’s also worth noting that Marsh’s Test average at home before this summer was 32.3 runs, lower than his overall batting average at the time. So there is clearly no skew at this stage of his career towards scoring more runs at home.

    However, more than the statistics, Marsh will keep his spot because he has impacted the results of the Test matches.

    Looking back to the Gabba Test match, Marsh came in with Australia at four for 76 chasing 302 on a subdued pitch. Marsh left the crease with his first 50 of the summer after putting on 99 with Steve Smith. Smith’s unbeaten 141 was pivotal to Australia’s first innings lead and the eventually comfortable victory, but Marsh’s contribution was important as he scored these runs when England were well on top. A loss at the Gabba for Australia would clearly have meant a much tighter Ashes series than eventuated.

    (Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

    It was the second Test in Adelaide where Shaun Marsh’s innings won the match for Australia. After being sent in to bat by Joe Root, Australia had reached four for 161 by the time Shaun Marsh came in. Importantly, though, Steve Smith was out relatively cheaply by his standards, so Marsh had to score. Losing Peter Handscomb early on Day 2 added to the pressure.

    After a slow start on the second morning, Marsh, assisted by good contributions from Tim Paine and Pat Cummins, first restored equilibrium and then put Australia firmly on top. The way he constructed it, scoring slowly at first to avoid being dismissed and then accelerating once he passed 50, was a sign of a class batsman, and it looked like he was finally at home in Australian colours.

    The Perth Test was perhaps a little disappointing for Shaun Marsh individually, with only 28 runs to his name. However, watching his brother score 181 and Australia wrapping up the Ashes would have been an immensely proud moment for him.

    Turning to Melbourne, his 61 in the first innings along with David Warner’s century and more runs from Steve Smith enabled Australia to score a reasonable first innings total which, although well outscored by England, reduced the time available for England to bowl Australia out the second time around.

    Shaun Marsh won’t get the player of the Ashes series. That accolade will surely go to Steve Smith, with his run-scoring this series simply phenomenal. Nevertheless, Marsh has impacted a number of the Test matches, and his knock in Adelaide was a match-winning one.

    The South African tour will prove more difficult for Australia, with the pitches likely to have more than just a little grass to start with. If he displays patience like he did in Adelaide on these pitches, he may be a fixture in the Australian team for some time to come.

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    The Crowd Says (1)

    • January 4th 2018 @ 4:28pm
      John Erichsen said | January 4th 2018 @ 4:28pm | ! Report

      Some of Shaun’s detractors might suggest he has quite a few opportunities to have a breakthough summer. History would reveal that, too many times, he has had breakdown summers.
      Shaun Marsh has rewarded the faith selectors have shown in him this series. A fit, injury -free and confident Shaun Marsh is a positive for the Australian test team. Long lasting confidence has rarely been an ally of Shaun’s. Maybe this time it will be different.

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