Of the many conundrums confronting national selectors, what to do with Shaun Marsh looms as perhaps the most challenging.
Marsh has reclaimed his title as the whipping boy of n cricket, producing scores of seven, zero, three and four during the Test series in the UAE.
It has led to calls for the 35-year-old to be axed for the final time in a stop-start international career, which appeared to be over prior to last year’s Ashes call-up.
The silent minority point to Marsh’s previous summer in , when he struck career-best form, a man-of-the-match century that delivered a 2-0 series lead, and more Ashes runs than any batsman bar Steve Smith.
Whether the left-hander can recreate that form in the four-Test series against India that starts on December 6 is the question Trevor Hohns’ panel will wrestle with.
Test vice-captain Josh Hazlewood has backed Marsh to return to his best, suggesting the veteran’s experience will be required this summer.
“It’s a shame he didn’t get going on this tour but I think he’ll definitely get a chance in ,” Hazlewood told AAP.
The cramped schedule adds a degree of complexity to the conversation between Hohns and coach Justin Langer, who lobbied for Marsh’s Test call-up while coaching Western last year.
Marsh is the form batsman in ‘s ODI side, having peeled off two centuries during a 5-0 series loss in England this year.
But playing the ODI series against South Africa next month will come at the cost of valuable red-ball practice with WA’s Sheffield Shield team.
“They’re going to have to weigh that up with a lot of different players and make some decisions,” Hazlewood said.
“You always want to play for but sometimes it might be a case where a batter has to play some Shield games, put some runs on the board and prepare the best they can for a big Test series.”
Skipper Tim Paine said Marsh would be disappointed with his performance in the UAE.
“He would like to score more runs, like the rest of us,” Paine said after ‘s crushing defeat in Abu Dhabi.
“But we get to go home now. I think there’s four rounds of Shield cricket for all of us to go back to and hopefully score a lot of runs to put our name up for the next Test.
“Clearly it’d be a pretty exciting time to be a batsman around Shield cricket at the moment if you’re scoring hundreds, there’s no doubt about that.
“There’s opportunity for everyone and the batting group that are here are also a part of that.”
Matthew Renshaw, overlooked throughout the Test series in the UAE, headlines the list of contenders to take Marsh’s spot in the XI.