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Shaun Marsh: Crisis Man

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Shaun_Marsh_Australia_CricketHaving a poor run of form and being on the wrong side of 30 is a very bad combination for a cricketer. That is when haters and critics are always ready to point at you and declare all your flaws peel by peel, layer by layer. But you have to stay strong, hold your ground and show everyone that you are not going anywhere. You have to show the world that age is just a number and it is the player's potential that should never be underestimated. And if you can do that, you will earn respect from everyone; irrespective of the opinion they had about you earlier.

Shaun Marsh's unbeaten knock of 126 at Adelaide on the second day of the second Ashes Test did something similar. It silenced all his haters and brought an end to all the criticisms about him.

 

He has been nothing more than a punching bag for the critics throughout his career. 'Not good enough' and 'overrated' are the only adjectives that the critics have always attributed him with. However, the 34-year old left-handed batsman showed his class on Sunday with his innings saving knock.

 

When David Warner departed for a patient 47 from 102 deliveries, leaving Australia at 86/2, the stage was once again set for a Steve Smith special. He began cautiously but got going later on with a couple of nicely timed boundaries. It seemed like he had picked up his innings right from where he had left off at the Gabba.

When it looked like the duo of Smith and Usman Khawaja had settled down, stitching together a partnership of 53 runs, Khawaja threw his wicket away after a promising knock of 53. The scoreboard read 139/3 and it seemed like it was going to be another one man show from the Aussie skipper. Peter Handscomb joined Smith in the middle while the latter kept delighting the spectators with some splendid stroke play.

But then the unthinkable happened. The man who looked invincible with the bat was knocked over by a peach of an inswinging delivery from debutant Craig Overton. England had exposed Australia's shaky lower middle order with that big wicket. With the score at 161/4, the Australian innings didn't seem like it would last much longer.

However, a crisis is always an opportunity for a player to make his mark. Those are the moments when heroes are made and history is created. And it was time for Shaun Marsh to rise up as Australia's saviour.

 

What he produced will go down as one of the classic knocks in Ashes history and will be remembered by the generations to come. His innings of 126* from 231 deliveries was a prime example of the patience, perseverance and temperament he has as a player.

 

He took the responsibility of marshaling the batting line-up and was involved in three crucial partnerships of 48, 85 and 99 runs with Handscomb, Tim Paine and Pat Cummins respectively.

The situation was still critical when Handscomb departed, leaving Australia at 209/5. However, with Tim Paine, Marsh ensured that Australia were in safe hands. Paine did the bulk of the scoring— 57 runs in 102 deliveries — in their partnership of 85 runs while Marsh maintained solidarity and solidity from the other end with a monk-like temperament.

However, when Paine and Mitchell Starc departed in quick succession, leaving Australia at 311/7, he took on the aggressor’s role in the company of Pat Cummins. He added 55 runs in a crucial stand of 99 runs and gave Australia the upper hand in the match.

When Cummins fell 6 runs short of a well-deserved fifty, Marsh added another 32 runs along with Nathan Lyon in a span of just 4 overs. Lyon contributed 10 runs at almost a run-a-ball, Marsh added 22 runs in just 12 deliveries.

Australia finally declared on a score of 442/8 with Marsh unbeaten on 126. His innings featured 15 classy boundaries and one raging six.

Prior to this innings, Marsh had just one century at home in 18 innings and a low average of 35.66. He had scored 3 centuries away from home at an average of 37.25, greater than that in home conditions. That was the main reason behind most of his criticism. However, this innings has turned things around for him. His home average now stands at a healthy 42.16.

With this innings, he has put an end to all the criticisms surrounding him. The way he batted rendered the English bowling totally harmless. Moreover, he inspired the other players to apply themselves and support him as much as possible. Such leadership has hardly been seen in his knocks before. With this knock, Marsh has given his career a new lease of life and has proven that it is the potential of the batsman that matters, not the age.

 

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