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Marsh and Khawaja Battling For Test Berth

By Staff Writer    |    Cricket   |   Aug 1, 2011 09:11 AM

Western Australian batsman Shaun Marsh believes he can use the upcoming one day series against Sri Lanka to push his claims for a maiden test cap.

Marsh is locked in a selection battle for the final batting spot in the Australian test side with New South Wales young gun Usman Khawaja, and the Western Australian believes the fact that he gets his chance to impress in the one-dayers hold him in good stead to push for his test debut.

“When I was a young boy I wanted to be on a test tour and be part of the test team. To get that opportunity now is fantastic and I’m just looking forward to the next few months of cricket,” Marsh said.

“It’s going to be tough. Sri Lankan series are usually very tough, it’s hot and they usually doctor the wickets to their style.”

Marsh left for India yesterday and is a part of the Twenty20 and one day international squads, meaning he will potentially get the chance to impress selectors in seven innings before Khawaja even arrives in Sri Lanka, with his first match likely to be the four day tour match against a Sri Lankan XI which begins a week before the first test.

Marsh and Khawaja are fighting it out to fill the spot in the test side left by the recently axed Simon Katich. However there are many wondering how the 2010 Australian test player of the year, could be replaced by Marsh, whose career has been railroaded by injuries in the past.

“Obviously I’ve had my issues with some injuries and they’ve come at unfortunate times, being involved in the Australian set up,” Marsh said.

“I’m really confident within my body now. I got through India, two months playing over there, playing some really tough cricket. Got through that unscathed and that’s given me a lot of confidence heading towards Sri Lanka.”

The Sri Lankan tour represents a changing of the guard within the Australian test team. It will be Michael Clarke’s first as captain, and there are also a total of eight players in the 15 man touring party who have played fewer than ten tests. There has even been talk of former captain Ricky Ponting being demoted to number six with Khawaja or Marsh to replace him in the top half of the order.

Khawaja has the edge on Marsh because he is an incumbent in the side, and he also has a much better first class record than Marsh. In 60 first class matches, Marsh has scored 3646 runs at an average of 37.97. He has also reeled off 6 centuries in that time. Khawaja on the other hand has played 35 first class matches, and his 2504 runs have come at an average of 45.52. Khawaja also has the edge on Marsh in terms of first class hundreds, with seven tonnes from fewer matches.

Marsh, who is the son of former Australian opening batsman Geoff Marsh, has spent most of his first class career as an opening batsmen, however Phillip Hughes is likely to get the nod as Shane Watson’s opening partner after some brilliant recent form. In his last five first class matches (two for New South Wales and three for Australia A) Hughes has reeled off 722 runs at an average of 90.25, blasting four centuries along the way.