Marsh surprised at Test squad recall

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Shaun Marsh was as surprised as most when he was included in Australia’s squad for next month’s tour of South Africa on Monday.

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Marsh and Tasmanian Alex Doolan were preferred to incumbent Test No.6 George Bailey and Phil Hughes when the 15-man squad was announced on Monday for the three-Test tour.

Bailey was dumped after an unimpressive Ashes series, while fit-again pacemen James Pattinson and Jackson Bird earned recalls and allrounder James Faulkner was included.

Marsh has been in solid form during Australia’s one-day series against England but his below-par Sheffield Shield efforts this summer make him a curious selection.

With 275 first-class runs at 34.37 this season, his performances leave him well behind the efforts of a host of other batsmen including Marcus North, Cameron White, Phil Hughes, Rob Quiney, Adam Voges, Peter Forrest, Nic Maddinson and Ed Cowan.

Australian chairman of selectors John Inverarity said Marsh was “striking the ball very well at the moment”.

Indeed it might have been Marsh’s 127 not out against Victoria recently that tipped the scales his way but it was his first hundred in the longer version of the game since he was dropped from the Test side two years ago.

“I was pretty surprised when John called me the other night but it is a fantastic opportunity for me now,” Marsh said.

“I’m very excited about it. If I do get an opportunity hopefully I can have a lot of fun out there it is great to be a part of it again.

“Fourteen months ago I wasn’t even getting picked in the WA side.

“It has been disappointing, I had some injuries and some poor form too being dropped from the Test team, hopefully that is all behind me now.”

While Marsh will be counting his lucky stars, Hughes – who has scored 549 interstate runs at 61 this summer including three hundreds and a topscore of 204 – can be considered unfortunate.

“Very close those four batters, George Bailey, Alex Doolan, Shaun Marsh and Phillip Hughes, they were the contenders for one two places,” Inverarity said.

“They were all very seriously considered. Phillip Hughes is very highly regarded by the panel. He’s a young man, we believe that he’s got a lot to offer Australian cricket, he’s a fine player.”

Doolan, who averages 38 in first-class cricket against Hughes’ 57, and has 391 runs at 39 this summer with one hundred, was also included in the squad with Inverarity claiming he and Marsh were more suited to South African conditions than Hughes and Bailey.

Doolan insisted he is up to the test South African’s world-class pace battery of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander will offer.

“I’m confident in my game and hopeful that it will stand me in good stead if I get a chance to show what I’m about in South Africa,” Doolan said.

Marsh showed great promise on Test debut when he scored 141 against Sri Lanka at Pallekele in September 2011 but things fell apart soon after when he managed just 17 runs in six innings in the 2011-12 series against India.

The 30-year-old averages 27.36 across his seven Tests and said he has learned the lessons of those tough times.

“I have had a taste of Test cricket, I know what it is all about I know how mentally tough you have to be,” he said.

“Hopefully that will put me in good stead.”

Australia Test squad for South Africa: Michael Clarke (capt), Brad Haddin (vc), Jackson Bird, Alex Doolan, James Faulkner, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, David Warner, Shane Watson.

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