Marsh on the verge of selection in Oz Test squad

Sydney: Opener Shaun Marsh has spent the last decade averaging about 40 in the Australian Sheffield Shield tournament, but a closer analysis reveals that the uncomplicated left-hander has averaged 60 in three of the past four seasons for Western Australia, making him a serious contender for a Test spot.

To his credit, Marsh also has an extraordinary record in the Indian Premier League, where he boasts a better average (51.26) than the world`s most destructive Twenty20 batsman, Chris Gayle (50.24).

He told a daily, he wants to finally make up for his years of underachievement - and, by doing that, earn a coveted baggy green cap.

``Don`t get me wrong, I love Twenty20 cricket and hopefully I do get to play Twenty20 cricket for a lot longer, but I want to be recognised as a four-day player and, hopefully, a Test player. That`s what your peers really judge you on. To have that respect from my peers is important, as well as proving it to myself,`` Marsh said.

While Marsh`s 33 ODIs have included two centuries, his average of 36.63 is not startling, especially for someone accustomed to opening. Yet there is something about his composed batting technique that makes him a favourite of many domestic coaches when asked to rate the talented batsman.

His Western Australian coach Mickey Arthur, the former South Africa coach, declared Marsh on par with Proteas dynamo A.B. de Villiers as the ``most talented`` batsman he had coached, prompting Marsh to comment that he is desperate to ``prove he [Arthur] was right``.

When chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch cited Marsh - along with Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja - as a batsman in strong contention to bolster the Test line-up, he pointedly said it was time for the Western Australian to ``step up``.

Marsh not only accepted Hilditch`s backhanded compliment, he agreed with it.

The most obvious batting vacancy in the Test team is an opener to partner Shane Watson.

The omission of Marsh from the Australia A squad to tour Zimbabwe this month will not hinder his chances of joining the limited-overs and Test squads in Sri Lanka in early August.

His homework from selectors is to knuckle down on his fitness, in the hope he can banish the soft-tissue and back injuries that have interrupted his career.

``I think I`ve really turned the corner with my training in the past three or four years. Leading up to that I was pretty lazy, but I`ve made that change and got myself in the best possible condition,`` he said.


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