‘Up the creek’: grim numbers behind Shaun Marsh conundrum
SHAUN Marsh could be just one innings away from losing his spot in the Australian Test XI once and for all.
The 35-year-old fell swiftly and deeply out of form following last summer's Ashes, which was the best Test series of his career (445 runs at 74.16).
He has played in 10 matches since and made 344 runs at 18.10. He has also made made only one half-century in his past 19 Test innings and his last century was 12 months ago at the SCG.
At the same ground on Saturday, he was caught at first slip off the bowling of Ravindra Jadeja for eight to give him his 10th single-digit score in 17 innings.
That run of form in the past would have turfed Marsh from the side. But with the Sheffield Shield in a BBL-forced hiatus, new coach Justin Langer preaching patience, and the side lacking experience, Marsh has multiple safety nets beneath him.
Furthermore, he hasn't been Australia's worst batsman in this series against India either. That dishonour likely falls to Aaron Finch (97 runs at 16.16), although he was forced to bat out of position at the top of the order.
But there's no doubt Marsh's 344 runs at 18.10 this series is well below the accepted mark for an experienced No.4 - a mark many hoped he would rise above on his return to home soil.
There are two more Tests this summer - against Sri Lanka - but Marsh is far from a lock for the series according to former opener Simon Katich.
"He's leaving the door ajar given what's coming up," he said on SEN Test Cricket.
"At his age he'd want to make every post a winner, otherwise the selectors can very easily go a different way.
"He's leaving himself up the creek and potentially throwing both paddles away."
Australia great Mike Hussey didn't agree though, telling foxsports.com.au the left-hander still had plenty to give to the national side despite being in the latter stages of his career.
"He's a class player and he probably hasn't got going as much as he would have liked this series but he's still looked good at the crease," Hussey said.
"He'll be keen to get a big score (at the SCG), that's for sure. Batting conditions are still pretty good so fingers crossed he can do the job.
"I don't think he'll be thinking this is it for him if he misses out again and I don't think he should be thinking like that.
"As I said, he's a class player and I think everyone wants him in the team and wants him to do well. But at the end of the day you have to keep trying to score runs I guess."
Instead, Hussey believes Marsh will have at least until the end of the summer to reprove his worth and solidify his spot for the 2019 Ashes series.
"The reason I say that is; who is there knocking the door down from below?" Hussey said.
"There's not an opportunity to play Sheffield Shield cricket, so there's not really an opportunity for other guys to bash the door down and put their name forward."