Bash star Marsh on verge of T20 recall
Fitness test … Shane Watson, right, on Sunday. Photo: Brendan Esposito
LESS than three months after being stood down by his Big Bash League franchise and then dumped by his state, Shaun Marsh is set to complete an international resurrection by winning a place in Australia's Twenty20 side.
The BBL's leading run-scorer is tipped for a recall to the T20 squad to be named on Monday, Australia needing to fill the gap vacated by short-form top-order mainstays Michael Hussey, who has retired, and Shane Watson for Saturday's Australia Day meeting with Sri Lanka at ANZ Stadium, and a second game at the MCG next week.
Watson, the player of the tournament at the World T20 championship in Sri Lanka last year, was put through a fitness test in the SCG practice nets on Sunday as selectors John Inverarity and Andy Bichel looked on. They must decide whether to usher him back from a calf injury in the limited-overs arena, or via a stint in the Sheffield Shield, where NSW resume their campaign against Western Australia at Blacktown on Thursday.
The 29-year-old Marsh has made a compelling audition for re-inclusion, bludgeoning 412 runs for Big Bash finalists the Perth Scorchers at an average of 58.85 and a strike rate of 128. In another tip of the hat from selectors to BBL form, the competition's player of the season, Aaron Finch, is also expected to gain a spot in Australia's top order, while Sydney osteopath Ben Rohrer, his Melbourne Renegades teammate, is also in the mix to make a deserved international debut.
Marsh, who has played seven Tests, 36 one-day internationals and eight T20s for Australia, until last month looked light years away from representing his country again any time soon.
An undeniable talent, his reputation for profligacy hit home in October when he was stood down by the Scorchers for his part in the boozy night of celebration in Cape Town to mark his brother Mitchell's 21st birthday during the T20 Champions League. Then, after the team returned home, he was dropped a fortnight later, on form, by Western Australia to return to club cricket.
Marsh's international career had already gone off the rails last summer when the bright start to his Test career - he had scored a hundred on debut - was blown away by a dismal return in the series against India.
While others cashed in against a poor attack, Marsh, thoroughly bereft of confidence, managed only 17 runs in four Tests at the diabolical average of 2.83. The last time he played for Australia was in a T20 match against India in Melbourne last February, and he duly lost his central contract.
The BBL's leading wicket-taker for the season, Hobart Hurricanes' Ben Laughlin, is also in line for a first Australian appearance in nearly four years, while Ben Cutting, who was outstanding for champions Brisbane Heat, is also strongly in contention.
There would be few more applauded selections than that of Rohrer, who has not played a Shield match for NSW this season but starred in the BBL. The 31-year-old swapped the Sydney Sixers for Melbourne when the Renegades offered him a chance in the top order and did not look back, pummelling 295 runs at an average of 49 and a strike rate of 152.