Probably the biggest question in the top six at the moment is whether Mitch Marsh is good enough with the bat. When he first cracked into the lineup on the UK tour, I thought the question was more about his bowling. He had come off the back of some good form with the willow, including a double hundred against South Africa A in the winter series the year before. But his bowling wasn’t a standout performance.
Fast forward 12 months and he hasn’t had that breakthrough innings yet. Like Nevill, Marsh has come in with side either in extreme trouble or driving a couch. As a 24-year-old all-rounder, he probably needs some time in the middle somewhere in between.
Hopefully, his century against India in the ODI series at home and his 70* odd in the Windies will give him the extra bump in confidence to get over the line this series.
Does bringing in Henriques put extra pressure on Marsh? I don’t think so. Marsh would have to contribute absolutely nothing with bat or ball for the first two tests to be a chance of being dropped. Even then, I don’t think it would happen.
To bring some perspective, he is currently the same age as Smith was when he was brought back into the team and Warner when he got his first chance. Clarke was 23 when he was brought in as a prodigal son, so I think he is on track. It is a tough ask to have a young bloke come in and slay it with both bat and ball. There is so much to learn. We have seen his bowling become a genuine threat, and it’s only fair that he gets a small window to bring his batting on next.
As I said in the Henriques’ Under the Microscope profile, despite every state having a claim to a possible solution, there is no one with the form in both disciplines banging the door down. No one can honestly contest that. All of them have flashes, but whoever takes over will only be another project player. Why start again unless someone is in irresistible form?
Prediction: Marsh to have a couple of half centuries, and to do his job with the ball. I’m hoping his first century is at home in the first Test of the summer at the WACA.
Statistics Source: ESPNCricinfo