Are the Marsh brothers here to stay?

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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    Shaun Marsh and Mitch Marsh together have made 669 runs at an average of 96 in this Ashes.

    Anyone who before the series predicted such a return for the much-maligned Marsh brothers would have been mocked mercilessly.

    And rightly so, because it is an unfathomable return from two cricketers who were fortunate even to be picked to play in this series.

    When the elder Marsh pushed incumbent Glenn Maxwell out of the side for the first Test I was shocked, as were many cricket fans and pundits.

    It’s not that Shaun Marsh was an awful choice, rather that it seemed dreadfully unfair on Maxwell, who had comfortably outperformed Shaun in Australia’s recent Tests in Asia.

    Awful choice, however, was exactly how I felt about the elevation of Mitch Marsh to the Australian XI for the third Test in Perth.

    The all-rounder had averaged just 17 with the bat in Tests over the previous three years, across 18 matches.

    Yet here we are now in what seems almost like an alternate universe, one in which everything about life is the same, except that here Mitch Marsh smashes Test runs for fun. In four knocks this series Mitch has made 282 runs. To highlight just how extraordinary that is, consider that it’s as many runs as he made in his previous 16 Test innings combined.

    I’ve delved into the technical refinements Mitch has made and also analysed his improved temperament.

    Both of those elements of his game were on show yesterday as he continued his rampant form with 63 not out as Australia went to stumps at 4-479, a lead of 133 runs. Mitch’s innings was like a mix of the commanding 181 he struck at Perth and his dour 29no from 166 balls at Melbourne.

    He struggled early on, particularly against English leg spinner Mason Crane. But he didn’t throw his wicket away, instead toughing it out as he moved to 5 from 33 balls.

    Then, in the space of five minutes, the game changed for Mitch as he clattered three boundaries in as many balls, two off Crane and another from the bowling of Stuart Broad.

    By stumps, his last 58 runs had come from just 54 balls. Now, it must be said that the runs Mitch has hoarded in this series have come on three roads against a very ordinary English bowling attack.

    Mitch Marsh

    (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

    It will be a far different proposition for him in Australia’s next series against South Africa, whose supreme pace unit has routed India in the first Test in Cape Town.

    Regardless, Mitch has taken truly enormous strides in this series and given generous reason for optimism about his Test future. So, too, has his brother Shaun who will start today needing just two runs to register his second ton of this Ashes.

    That would be his fourth hundred in his past 12 Tests, during which he has piled up 951 runs at 53. Shaun is officially in the form of his life. Most importantly, he’s found the one thing which eluded him for so long in Test cricket – consistency.

    Shaun has passed 50 in four of these five Ashes Tests and in the other match, in Perth, he cruised to 28 in his only innings before getting undone by a good ball from Moeen Ali. He has been resolute throughout the series, scoring at a strike rate of just 43 as he’s placed a high price on his wicket.

    This is just what Australia needed from Shaun given the flakiness of their middle order in recent years. He has given it some steel.

    That is also what will be required next month when Australia head to South Africa, a series which looms as the true litmus test for he and Mitch. But right now there’s cause to believe the Marsh brothers are finally starting to realise their great potential.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (105)

    • January 7th 2018 @ 5:24am
      Don Freo said | January 7th 2018 @ 5:24am | ! Report

      You re right Ronan. I have “been mocked mercilessly”.

      • January 7th 2018 @ 10:11am
        Rissole said | January 7th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

        Mitch Marsh has a higher series average than Steve Smith.

      • Roar Rookie

        January 7th 2018 @ 12:44pm
        Bunney said | January 7th 2018 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

        Kudos to you Don for getting it right.
        But you were mocked for a reason – you have backed the Marsh boys hard for a long time and predicted fantastic returns for them at every opportunity. Shaun’s test form over the last 3 or so years has been alright – his usual inconsistent mix of ups and downs – while Mitch’s has been downright ordinary.
        So your pre-match or pre-series predictions have been incorrect many more times than they’ve been validated.

        Ronan’s correct about the alternate universe – it’s like Mitch Marsh has been abducted by aliens and replaced by a doppleganger such has been his reversal in batting form. I wrote on the live blog yesterday that his new-found ability to go slow and put a premium on his wicket, as well as his ability to put the foot down make him an ideal #6, if he can keep this kind of form up. I hope he does.

        • January 7th 2018 @ 12:54pm
          Don Freo said | January 7th 2018 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

          Not inconsistent at all. As Ronan pointed out, the second half of his career, he has been averaging over 50. That is elite.

          That’s this current second half of his career. Only the prejudiced would add a “but” to that.

          • Roar Rookie

            January 7th 2018 @ 1:35pm
            Bunney said | January 7th 2018 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

            Tsk, tsk Don. You often berate others for using stats, as they don’t represent form.

            Further, prior to being selected in this Ashes series, he has never averaged 50 in his most recent run of matches, no matter how far you go back (average calculated from his last match and then back).
            Only if you remove his tour of India stats from March – where he averaged 19 for the series (including 1 game saving knock) – can you get a run of scores from Marsh that averages 50 or more. And by doing that, you are tacitly acknowledging that he has been inconsistent.

            Just continue revelling in his great Ashes series Don. I for one didn’t think he should have been selected over Maxy, but you can’t argue with 455 runs @ almost 76.

            • January 7th 2018 @ 4:10pm
              Don Freo said | January 7th 2018 @ 4:10pm | ! Report

              53 average in his last 12 Tests…

              How can you misconstrue that? Read the article. You fly in the face of what is laid out for you.

              • January 7th 2018 @ 8:13pm
                moustache twirler said | January 7th 2018 @ 8:13pm | ! Report

                statistics are just a record of history, not a true indicator of form

              • Roar Rookie

                January 7th 2018 @ 9:59pm
                Bunney said | January 7th 2018 @ 9:59pm | ! Report

                Don, take the blinkers off. Please. Some of your comments are great, demanding consideration; while others are just noxious condescension designed to irritate. I prefer the former…vastly prefer.

                I stated that prior to this series, Shaun had been inconsistent. Your haughty reply that he has averaged over 50 ignores the premise of my comment – that PRIOR to this series he’s been inconsistent. His form PRIOR to this series, no matter how far you go back, never once sees him averaging 50.

                He averages 53 in the last 12 matches (I haven’t checked your numbers, but sounds about right) only when you include this great Ashes series he’s had. Stop acting like a donkey, and just enjoy that your golden boy has had a serious upturn in form, which this article celebrates. His form this series was so good, even I’m singing from the same song sheet. Believe me, that’s proof positive Shauny has been great this series.

              • January 7th 2018 @ 10:16pm
                FreDono said | January 7th 2018 @ 10:16pm | ! Report

                Averages are only relevant when I say they are like when I state Broad and Anderson are two of the greatest ever (therefore anyone who makes runs against them must be great).

                Then there are times when I dismiss averages by saying Steyn, Morkel, Philander et Al aren’t the bowlers they once were.

                See how it works?

              • January 7th 2018 @ 10:19pm
                Don Freo said | January 7th 2018 @ 10:19pm | ! Report

                He hasn’t been inconsistent. That’s supported by the record of his last 12 Tests.

              • January 8th 2018 @ 11:27am
                Egbirt said | January 8th 2018 @ 11:27am | ! Report

                No never. http://www.howstat.com/cricket/Statistics/Players/PlayerBatGraph2.asp?PlayerID=3561
                The picture of consistency.
                Unless you mean he hasn’t been inconsistent, because he’s been consistently inconsistent?

              • January 7th 2018 @ 10:52pm
                FreDono said | January 7th 2018 @ 10:52pm | ! Report

                Actually I use averages when it suits me. Eg. I say Anderson and Broad are two of the all time greats, ignoring their recent overseas form, to support my argument that Mitch and Shaun are great.

                Other times I ignore averages by saying Eg. Steyn, Morkel and Philander aren’t up to it anymore…

                See how I work?

              • January 8th 2018 @ 8:32pm
                John Erichsen said | January 8th 2018 @ 8:32pm | ! Report

                Why the 12 test number, Don? I assume that’s because it includes his 182 against the West Indies, but doesn’t include his other five 2015 tests where he averaged 26…
                Most of us are wrapped that both Shaun and Mitch made great contributions with the bat this series and hope for more of the same in South Africa.
                Just to play Devil’s Advocate though… If either or both of them struggle against the South African attack, how long should their positions be secure for? As long as Burns, Maxwell and Handscomb or should they get special treatment because they are from WA?

              • January 8th 2018 @ 9:36pm
                Don Freo said | January 8th 2018 @ 9:36pm | ! Report

                Referring to Ronan’s numbers. Did you read or just pounce on comments?

    • January 7th 2018 @ 6:49am
      Ironmonger said | January 7th 2018 @ 6:49am | ! Report

      Good luck to them both. They’ve played well under some difficult circumstances, and also taken advantage of some flat tracks when the chance came. It is turning quite a bit this pitch, even Ali tied the batters (particularly cacky-handlers) down for periods, so not completely a pitch without offering.

      I like the look of Crane, with his Stu McGill “cocked wrist” style he turns the ball a fair bit. Unlucky not to find M Marsh’s edge when he first came out. Lacks a bit of variation and control so tough to tie down batters. I had also noticed prior to the disputed no-ball that he was over-stepping the line regularly. The field umpires don’t seem to even look at the front foot now, just referring as needed.

      I’d love to say we’ve got a settled looking team now…maybe an opening bat still to secure. Bring on SA!

    • January 7th 2018 @ 6:55am
      Kangajets said | January 7th 2018 @ 6:55am | ! Report

      I’m happy for Shaun Marsh , but this is just more evidence that is the worst England team to tour in 30 years .

      • January 7th 2018 @ 4:56pm
        Dom said | January 7th 2018 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

        That might be true, but it’s also evidence that batsmen should continue to be given a chance by Test selectors after they pass 30. Pretty much all the evidence suggests batsmen only hit their peak after 30 (apart from the rare superstars like Smith, Warner, Ponting, etc) and yet too often quality batsmen are written off as too old once they reach 32 or 33.

        Chris Rogers, Adam Voges and now Shaun Marsh have been the exceptions in recent times, but guys like Ed Cowan, George Bailey, Michael Klinger etc all dominated in the Shield in recent years but were ignored by national selectors when they could have had Shaun Marsh-like impacts at Test level. There’s nothing really wrong with a 30-something veteran getting 3/4 years in the Test side before being replaced with another one.

        • January 7th 2018 @ 5:07pm
          Bruce said | January 7th 2018 @ 5:07pm | ! Report

          Dom

          Well said

        • January 8th 2018 @ 9:13pm
          John Erichsen said | January 8th 2018 @ 9:13pm | ! Report

          I do agree that players over 32 should be considered even if only for a 3/4 year tenure although some you mention just haven’t done enough consistently to justify further investment. Cowan had plenty of time to cement his position in the test side but he never did, averaging 31.28 and only averaging better than 35 in one of his six test series. Bailey possibly could have been shown more faith, but again. he didn’t grasp the opportunity he had, averaging only 26 in the 5- 0 series whitewash over England.

          Michael Klinger simply didn’t dominate at shield level. If he had, his career first class average would be higher than 39. He was often spoken about in selection meetings, but a look at his shield seasons make him easy to ignore for another option. Sometimes a younger player with a better average and obviously Chris Rogers and Adam Voges had a quality to their “experienced batsman” claims that Klinger couldn’t match.

          2016/17 431 runs at 23.94
          2015/16 617 runs at 47.46
          2014/15 1046 runs at 58.11 Voges averaged 100+
          2013/14 568 runs at 37.86
          2012/13 330 runs at 19.41 Rogers selected averaging over 50 in shield and county cricket
          2011/12 835 runs at 46.38 Cowan averaged 59
          2010/11 346 runs at 23.06

    • January 7th 2018 @ 6:59am
      Adsa said | January 7th 2018 @ 6:59am | ! Report

      Justin Langer has done wonders for there techniques and shot selection, hopefully he can do the same with Bancroft.

      • January 7th 2018 @ 8:29am
        Jeffrey Dun said | January 7th 2018 @ 8:29am | ! Report

        It wasn’t Langer who worked on Mitch’s technique.

        I read somewhere that it was Mitch’s personal batting coach named Scott Meuleman (from a famous WA cricketing family).

        I’ve said it before on these boards in relation to the coaches employed by the States and CA – what do they actually do? It is a natural assumption that JL, or Boof, or Hick worked with MMarsh to improve his technique, but no, it seems that they had no input, and that Marsh sought out his own personal coach.

        This reinforces my view that many of these coaches are a waste of space.

        • January 7th 2018 @ 8:45am
          Bakkies said | January 7th 2018 @ 8:45am | ! Report

          That’s what KP did when he was struggling before the 2010/11 series he went back to SA to seek Graham Ford who he knew since he was at school. Players have these mentors who know them personally. Squad coaches come and go. Apart from WA most players are working with different sets of coaches due to the two month Shield hiatus which is not a good thing.

        • January 7th 2018 @ 11:37am
          ScottD said | January 7th 2018 @ 11:37am | ! Report

          I would thought he’d also talk to his brother or Dad. He isn’t short of options

        • January 7th 2018 @ 2:30pm
          Graeme said | January 7th 2018 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

          Jeffrey sayiing JL had no input into M Marsh is like saying Don Bradman couldn’t bat. I have heard that Scott Mueleman coaches his batting but Langer is hands on and guaranteed would have plenty of advice.

          • January 8th 2018 @ 7:49am
            Jeffrey Dun said | January 8th 2018 @ 7:49am | ! Report

            JL has been coach of WA for 5 years. He may have provided advice, but it does not seem to have translated to much in the way of batting success at the test level.

            It seems to have taken Marsh, while recovering from his shoulder operation, to go back to his personal batting coach to reconstruct his technique to achieve the success he has achieved in this series.

    • January 7th 2018 @ 7:27am
      jamesb said | January 7th 2018 @ 7:27am | ! Report

      It looks like Shaun has made it as a test batsman. Unfortunately he is 34. He probably only has a couple of years left. As for Mitch, a bigger test awaits- South Africa away.

      If he can survive that series, then we may have a long term number six.

      • January 7th 2018 @ 8:04am
        rock86 said | January 7th 2018 @ 8:04am | ! Report

        Yep, unfortunately seems he won’t get the fruits of his labour for too long but at least it will give some time for the younger green batsmen we’ve got to learn at domestic level rather then being thrown to the wolves at test level prematurely.

    • January 7th 2018 @ 7:50am
      Nudge said | January 7th 2018 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      Where is Red Kev? Selectors have nailed it again. I always understood why Mitch Narsh has been given every opportunity. He has a massive amount of talent and someone who can bowl 135km as a 5th bowler is huge. His bowling hasn’t been as good this series but that’s to be expected after a shoulder reco. As Ronan has pointed out his big test is RSA. If he can perform well there, then he is going to be a gun test player for oz for the next 10 years.
      As for Shaun Marsh you can understand why the selectors have given him so many chances. The guy is so talented. Currently with a test average over 40. Well done selectors.

      • Roar Guru

        January 7th 2018 @ 8:05am
        Dutski said | January 7th 2018 @ 8:05am | ! Report

        You raise a good point about Mitch’s bowling, Nudge. I hope it’s going to improve because he’s going at 5 an over most spells and hasn’t looked like doing anything but letting the pressure off. But given the major concern has been his “not good enough to bat in the top 6” batting, he’s really answered those questions. And while people say that the pitches have been roads and England are hopeless, not all batsman have cashed in.
        Well done Marsh brothers- opportunity taken.

      • Roar Guru

        January 7th 2018 @ 12:29pm
        Red Kev said | January 7th 2018 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

        Right here. Any first class player in Australia could succeed given 9 chances. I wonder how Ferguson and Quiney feel?

        Mitch Marsh is not bowling close to 135kph either, he’s bowling 120-122kph max this series.

        However, I agree with Ronan’s article, both are here to stay and have more than returned the faith put in them by selectors. Maybe now the selectors can spread that faith around to other deserving Australian players.

        • Roar Rookie

          January 7th 2018 @ 12:47pm
          Bunney said | January 7th 2018 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

          Pushing it a little with Quiney there Red Kev. He was lucky to get a gig at all.

          Fergo probably would have done alright given a bag full of opportunity though.

          • Roar Guru

            January 7th 2018 @ 1:03pm
            Red Kev said | January 7th 2018 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

            Quiney’s First Class record on selection almost exactly mirrored Shaun Marsh’s – which is why I mentioned him.

            • January 7th 2018 @ 10:39pm
              Nudge said | January 7th 2018 @ 10:39pm | ! Report

              Comparing Quiney and Marsh talent wise is laughable. I’m sure selectors certainly look at all different types of stats, but they’d also look at technique, temperament etc etc. Quiney wouldn’t be able to tie up Shaun Marshes bootlaces

              • January 8th 2018 @ 7:21am
                Harrythetorch said | January 8th 2018 @ 7:21am | ! Report

                Completely agree

        • January 7th 2018 @ 10:51pm
          Cam said | January 7th 2018 @ 10:51pm | ! Report

          This comment about Marsh’s speeds just wrong. His first spell in this test was between 130 and 138 km/hr. He looked much improved, in better rhythm and hitting the keepers gloves harder than in the Perth and Melbourne tests. He would have averaged around 128-130 km/hr in Perth and Melbourne.

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