Australia have dropped Shaun Marsh. Again.
The news was met with plenty of that particular brand of rejoicing where people look really sour-faced and say: “About time.”
We’ve an inkling that the main problem with Marsh is that he’s good enough to play for Australia in the first place.
Marsh averages 34.31 in Test cricket and everyone in Australia says that’s not good enough for a specialist batsman. But they’re wrong. They’re really, really wrong.
Just because 34.31 isn’t good enough in a “we’d quite like to win some games of cricket” sense doesn’t mean it’s not good enough in a “let’s pick the best available batsmen” sense. Marsh is mediocre, but his rivals are generally slightly worse.
Marsh’s unique quality – insofar as he has one – is that he’s juuuust about good enough to make the Test team. This carefully calibrated level of ability absolutely maximises the time he spends getting right on everyone’s tits by being rubbish and out of form.
Great players get plenty of leeway. Good players get a bit of leeway. Marsh? Well, even when he’s in form, his presence is only really tolerable at best. Out of form his mediocrity is impossible to ignore.
What’s really remarkable when you look back on it now is how England permitted him to score 445 runs at 74.16 in the last Ashes series. He has played in 10 matches since and made 344 runs at 18.10.
Reviewing Marsh’s latest Test innings, Ricky Ponting said: “We saw again he started nice and positively and hit two really good cover drives and then it’s just the ball that doesn’t do anything that gets him out.”
Imagine that! Imagine a Test batsman with a weakness against ‘the ball that doesn’t do anything’. You’d drop him, wouldn’t you? You’d drop him in a heartbeat.
Now imagine it’s a few months down the line and you’ve realised that the guy who replaced the guy with a weakness against the ball that doesn’t do anything is even worse and you’re seriously considering bringing Shaun Marsh back again.
Imagine you’ve brought Shaun Marsh back countless times before and each time he’s been creatively and innovatively mediocre. How many more times can you do it? How many more times can Australia possibly bring back Shaun Marsh?