Marsh skill war­rants call-up

The West Australian - - SPORT - ANALYSIS JOHN TOWNSEND

Shaun Marsh could be the mod­ern ver­sion of his former WA team­mate and coach Tom Moody if Aus­tralia bite the bul­let by pick­ing the flu­ent left­hander against Pak­istan today.

Moody’s call-up for the fourth match of the 1999 World Cup was the cat­a­lyst that set Aus­tralia on the path to vic­tory in the tour­na­ment.

There were clear par­al­lels be­tween the Eng­land cam­paigns of today and 20 years ago.

Like 2019, the Aus­tralian camp in the early stages of the 1999 World Cup was un­set­tled and un­sure of its best line-up.

Shane Warne was dis­rup­tive af­ter be­ing dropped in the West Indies a month or so ear­lier.

He was threat­en­ing to quit in­ter­na­tional cricket and his re­la­tion­ship with cap­tain Steve Waugh had soured.

And Aus­tralia could not work out their best com­bi­na­tion. En­ter Moody.

The WA all-rounder was picked for the fourth match of the tour­na­ment, against Bangladesh at Chester-le-Street, and his un­beaten half-cen­tury helped Aus­tralia to the solid win that sparked a turn­around in both form and at­ti­tude.

Marsh has been over­looked for the first three matches this time but Steve Smith’s suc­cess­ful el­e­va­tion to No.3 against In­dia, rais­ing ques­tions over Us­man Khawaja’s value in the mid­dle or­der, has opened the door for his re­turn at Taun­ton.

Marsh has been Aus­tralia’s best-per­formed bats­man at No.3 in Smith’s ab­sence, av­er­ag­ing 54 at a strike rate of 94 in the past two years.

He has a strong case to re­turn to that po­si­tion in place of the mis­fir­ing Khawaja un­less coach Justin Langer and his ad­vis­ers de­cide that Smith’s abil­ity to con­trol the in­nings is best suited to com­ing in at one wicket down.

But while Marsh’s and Khawaja’s records show they are best suited to tak­ing on the new ball, the West Aus­tralian’s greater flex­i­bil­ity makes him an ideal floater in the top or­der.

He re­turns 48 at No.4, and 50 in the past two years, and has had an im­pact as a late hit­ter in his oc­ca­sional forays into the mid­dle or­der.

Marsh has a run-a-ball cen­tury at No.6 and the fastest of his 22 scores above 50 came when he bat­ted at No.5 at Lord’s on an ear­lier tour.

Aus­tralia have a bril­liant but brit­tle bat­ting line-up.

David Warner is bat­ting more cau­tiously than at any stage of his ca­reer, match win­ners Glenn Maxwell and Mar­cus Stoi­nis pro­duced sec­ond-ball ducks of a type that raised ques­tions over their prepa­ra­tion and readi­ness to per­form and Khawaja is search­ing for form.

Aus­tralia were in trou­ble in 1999 un­til a West Aus­tralian vet­eran helped ig­nite the team’s best cricket.

Maybe it is time for an­other one to get his chance.

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