Shaun Marsh unlikely for Boxing Day Test

Shaun Marsh is not expected to be in contention for the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan, which could offer another opportunity for Nic Maddinson. Marsh broke a finger during Australia’s loss to South Africa at the WACA in the first Test of the summer, and Cricket Australia’s team performance chief, Pat Howard, said it was “highly unlikely” Marsh would be passed fit for Boxing Day.

Speaking on ABC radio on Sunday morning, Howard said Marsh was to have X-rays in the next couple of days, but the likely plan was for him to make his comeback in the Perth Scorchers’ second BBL match against Sydney Sixers on December 27. Marsh scored 63 and 15 opening the batting with David Warner in the Perth Test, having scored centuries in his previous two Tests.

Joe Burns was reinstated as Warner’s opening partner for the second Test against South Africa in Hobart but failed in both innings, and the selectors picked young Queensland opener Matt Renshaw to make his debut in the Adelaide Test that followed. Renshaw has shown enough in his first two Tests to suggest that he could be given an extended run in the side.

But there is also a strong case, based on recent form, that Marsh should return to the side when he is passed fit, and he is likely to be part of the touring party for February’s Test campaign in India. The success of Renshaw and Peter Handscomb, who both made their debuts in Adelaide, means fellow debutant Maddinson is the most logical casualty should Marsh come back.

Although Marsh’s most recent stint in the Test side was as opener, he has moved up and down the order in both Test and first-class cricket, and could comfortably slot into the middle order. Maddinson has made 0, 1 and 4 in his three pink-ball Test innings and Howard would not be drawn on whether he would be given a chance in a red-ball Test in Melbourne.

“On a personal note, you’d like to see anyone do well. It’s been really pleasing to see three debutants, two have actually put down fantastic markers,” Howard said. “Obviously with Nic, we all talked about Adelaide being tough. But the other thing is, there’s never the perfect opportunity.

“I’m sure Callum Ferguson would love an opportunity. And so there’s never the perfect way or perfect opportunity, and you’ve got to take what’s on offer. Nic or anybody else, when that opportunity is presented, you’ve got to come and take it with both hands. And I think that does apply no matter what the age.”

However, Howard conceded that when selecting Test players, a different set of criteria might be used for younger players compared to older players, with veterans needing to dominate Sheffield Shield cricket in the manner of Adam Voges and Chris Rogers to earn call-ups.

“They’ve got to top the run-scoring, they’ve got to absolutely dominate in Shield,” Howard said when asked on radio by Rogers what the future was for the likes of Ferguson and Cameron White, both in their 30s. “And I think that sends a fantastic message to all the Shield players. They’ve got to play really well.

“There is the opportunity absolutely, to do that. For the younger players, you’ve got to be able to talent ID. You’ve got to be able to go ‘I’ve seen enough in this player to be able to go to the next step’. I don’t think that’s anything different from the past, but yeah, you expect higher standards [of older players].” (Courtesy ESPN Cricinfo)