Marsh. Also, Marsh.
These are the two words no Australian cricket fan outside the immediate Marsh family particularly wanted to hear at Friday's Australian squad announcement for the upcoming three Test cricket series against South Africa, starting November 3.
We refer, of course, to Shaun Marsh and Mitchell Marsh, who will now add at least one baggy green cap to their tally of 18 each.
The issue with the Marsh brothers is this. Shaun, 33, is the 'almost guy'. But at his age, he can't afford to be that. He needs to be the 'definitely guy'. The guy fighting opposition bowlers rather than rival Australians for his spot in the team.
Mitchell, 25, is the 'nowhere guy'. He's been touted as the future for three years now, but as The Doors sung in Roadhouse Blues in a lyric which could have been written for Mitchell Marsh, "the future's uncertain and the end is always near". By this, we mean that Mitchell Marsh has consistently failed to deliver on his promise. You just can't imagine they'll pick him again. And yet they keep doing it.
The full squad, in approximate batting order, is:
David Warner (vc)
Steve Smith (c)
Peter Nevill (wk)
Joe Mennie (likely 12th man)
Wait a sec, Joe Who is the likely 12th man? Joe Mennie, that's who. He's a 27-year-old quick who like the late Phillip Hughes, hails from the banana-growing regions of the NSW north coast but plies his trade in state cricket for South Australia.
Do you want the bad news or the good news first as regards Joe Mennie? We'll start with the bad, which is that he played in the recent 5-0 thrashing South Africa inflicted on Australia in the One Dayers in South Africa. Mennie took 0-82 off his first 10 overs in international cricket, the worst ever by an Australian debutant. You might say it was a few too, ahem, Mennie.
The good news is that he starred with the ball for Australia A in a match against South Africa A in August. So it appears he might be better suited to the game's longer form.
But back to the Marshes. We probably shouldn't be too harsh on Shaun, who averages a slightly-below-par but respectable enough 40.22 with the bat in Tests. Moreover, as this recent article pointed out, he has averaged 47 since February 2014, so perhaps the leftie's career is on an upwards trajectory after all.
As for Mitchell Marsh, whatever. That's not a very sophisticated analysis, but it'll do. Also, WTF. Dude averages 24 flat. Mitchell Starc averages 24.8 and he's in the team for his bowling. This, surely, is the younger Marsh's last chance to prove he is no mallow. Australia need his best. Back in 2009, in the infamous summer of the Katich/Clarke throat grab, Australia lost for the first time in 15 years on home soil to South Africa. This South African team is no weaker. We need performers.
The good news is that Australia's premier batsmen have all made runs this week. Steve Smith made a century in state cricket, as did David Warner, and on his 30th birthday too. Usman Khawaja made 79 and even Shaun Marsh notched triple figures.
Mitchell Marsh? He made 12 and a duck in his two innings for Western Australia. But the selectors are smarter than us, right?Suggest a correction