More Recalls Than a Takata Airbag

Seriously? Mitchell Marsh has earned a recall to the Test squad? Again?

Except it hasn’t been earned. They have handed it to him. And on what basis? Test selection is supposed to be justified by performance. There needs to be some logic and consistency to it. With Marsh, there isn’t.

Look, Marsh is one of the world’s best white ball batters. He is one heck of a slogger. Few players have his brute strength. If you’re playing T20, you want him on your team. He could (and absolutely should) tour the world playing in T20 tournaments and making lots of money.

But Marsh is NOT a Test cricketer.

He lacks the technique to play the red ball that moves through the air or off the seam, and his dismal Test record provides ample evidence of this. You can bet the ball will swing in England, so where’s the logic for selecting a batter who has played the grand total of THREE first-class (i.e. red ball) games in the past three and a half years (and only ONE in the past sixteen months). It’s a tremendous insult to those state cricketers who have toiled away in the Sheffield Shield, having been told by the selectors that if they put results on the board they would be considered for elevation to the Test team.

No doubt the selectors will point to Marsh’s recent white ball form to justify his inclusion, but how many times must we remind them the skill sets for Test cricket and T20 are very different? We’ve been here so many times before. George Bailey should know this better than most. He failed at Test cricket (5 Tests, average 26.14) after being picked on his excellent white ball form. So did Aaron Finch (5 Tests, average 27.80) and Glenn Maxwell (7 Tests, average 26.07). Marsh has already been gifted 32 Tests but his average languishes at 25.20. At one point he was rated the worst No. 6 in Test history. Recalling him to the Test squad makes no sense, especially as he has played almost no first-class cricket lately.

Oh, the selectors might say, but he made a century in the recent Shield match against Tasmania in March, when he made 108 not out. Well, sure, yes he did. So…..they have selected him on the strength of a single innings? Other players must post a couple of years of strong results in the Shield to even be considered for Test selection.

Oh, but, Australia must have him because it can’t rely too much on Cameron Green as the all-rounder.

Actually, that’s a fair point. But there are better options as the back-up for Green. Australia actually has an unusually good crop of good all-rounders at present. Michael Neser and Sean Abbott are both better bowlers than Marsh, and although they are bowling all-rounders, their first-class batting averages aren’t that different from Marsh’s Test average (Neser: 23.44, Abbot: 23.13). In the 2022-23 Shield, Neser took 40 wickets at 16.73 and made 357 runs at 32.45. Why is Marsh preferred to him?

Then there are the younger emerging all-rounders who the selectors could blood if for some reason they overlooked Neser and Abbott. Will Sutherland had a blowout year in the 2022-23 Shield (41 wickets at 19.93 and 467 runs at 29.19) and he’s only 23 years old! Why wouldn’t you take him to England as back-up? (FYI, Marsh will be 32 in October.)

And why is Marsh included as an all- rounder anyway when apparently he no longer bowls? He didn’t bowl a single ball in the recent 3-match ODI series against India, nor did he bowl in the single Sheffield Shield match he played in March. Are we to assume a guy who has hardly rolled his arm over for three years is the second-best all-rounder in the country? Again, it doesn’t stack up. Okay, his ability to bowl has been crimped by injury lately. Is he recovered? Do the selectors even know? And even if he is, his Test bowling record is pretty ordinary (42 wickets at 38.64) and definitely inferior to any of the abovementioned options.

By all accounts, Marsh is a very nice bloke. It’s lucky for him, because if I was another promising cricketer witnessing the special treatment he receives, I’d be seriously pissed off.

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