Australia v Sri Lanka Tests
Marsh heading back to where it all began
Shaun Marsh is preparing for a familiar trip to Sri Lanka as he aims to break into the Test XI
Andrew Ramsey Senior Writer
24 May 2016, 04:51 PM AEST
Five years after he announced himself as a Test number three of significant promise, Shaun Marsh is preparing to return to Sri Lanka and reprise his role as an auxiliary batter hoping to gain a foothold in a seemingly settled Australia line-up.
Marsh was today named in the 15-man squad for the three-Test Qantas Tour of Sri Lanka in July and August but will begin the tour as the spare man for Steve Smith’s top-order despite posting the highest score of his revolving-door Test career in Hobart last year.
It’s a similar scenario to 2011 when the then-uncapped 28-year-old was the auxiliary batsman for the tour to Sri Lanka that marked the start of Michael Clarke’s captaincy tenure but was granted a Test start when former skipper Ricky Ponting returned home for the birth of his second child.’
Marsh, whose wife Rebecca is expecting the couple’s first baby in coming weeks, gave heart to all who had championed his cause since he was identified as a teenage batting prodigy in Perth by peeling off a memorable 141 in his maiden Test innings in the second Test at Pallekele.
But in the five years since that historic day, Marsh has managed just 16 more Tests of a possible 55 that Australia has played with his inability to secure a regular place in the national team a result of inopportune injuries as well as inconsistent form.
Indeed, his preparation for the upcoming Sri Lanka tour is being disrupted not so much by the impending arrival that has led to Marsh sitting out next month’s ODI tri-series in the Caribbean but because of a back ailment that prematurely ended his recent stint at the Indian Premier League.
The 32-year-old left-hander, whose recall to the Test line-up last summer came about when Usman Khawaja was injured and terminated when Khawaja recovered, said today the back injury that brought him home early from India won’t prevent him from boarding the plane to Sri Lanka.
“My back’s getting better, I wouldn’t say it’s one hundred per cent but I’ve got a bit of time up my sleeve now to get it right,” he told reporters in Perth following the release of the 15-man squad that includes his younger brother, Mitchell, and WA teammates Adam Voges and Nathan Coulter-Nile.
“I don’t leave until the 9th of July so I’ll be ready to go by then.
“It’s just one of those things.
“I’ve been really good over the last couple of years with my injuries and the body’s fine.
“I’ve had a bit of a hiccup over the last couple of weeks and I’ll be ready to go come July.”
Voges is one of the incumbent batters who stands between Marsh and a Test recall, with Australia’s top six – David Warner, Joe Burns, Khawaja, Smith, Voges and the younger Marsh – unchanged since the second Test against the West Indies at the MCG last Boxing Day.
But the former Australia under-19 captain and son of ex- Test opener and Australia and Zimbabwe coach Geoff Marsh knows from first-hand experience – as recently as last year’s Ashes tour when he was drafted in for the disastrous Trent Bridge Test defeat – that opportunities can unexpectedly arise.
He also understands he’s not the only member of the squad not expected to figure in the opening Test when he returns to Pallakele (near Kandy) for the match starting July 26.
Recalled allrounder Moises Henriques and fast bowler Coulter-Nile, the only uncapped member of the Test squad, are also seen as unlikely starters unless sudden injury or form loss dictates otherwise.
But Marsh believes that Coulter-Nile, who has also suffered a wretched run with injuries over recent years with the most recent – a dislocated shoulder while fielding in the KFC Big Bash League curtailing his hopes of a 2015 Boxing Day Test debut – is ready for Test cricket if granted a chance.
And given that Marsh’s century in 2011 is remains the highest Test debut score by an Australian since Clarke’s 151 in Bangalore a dozen years ago, he can claim some authority on knowing what it takes to succeed in a maiden Test outing on Sri Lankan soil.
“Coults (Coulter-Nile) is firing, he’s been excellent over the last six months and he’s in a really good place with his cricket at the moment,” Marsh said of his WA, Perth Scorchers and now Australia Test squad teammate.
“Whenever he’s had a chance to play for Australia he’s done a really good job.
“So I’m really excited to see Coults in the Test squad and I’m sure if he gets an opportunity over in Sri Lanka that he’ll do really well.
“Considering that over there reverse swing will probably come into play at some stage, and he’s one of the best at it.”