Things just keep going from bad to worse for Australia’s Mitchell Marsh. Not only has Marsh had a forgettable time, so far on the ongoing Indian tour, statistics now prove that he is now the worst no.6 batsman for any country.
Far from his best:-
Marsh failed to score in the first innings and notched up just 13 runs in the second innings, of the second Test in Bangalore. Marsh’s contribution did not help his team’s cause as the Aussies fell short of their target of 188 runs, and India leveled the 4 match series at 1-1. Marsh’s scores in the ongoing series so far, read - 31, 0 and 13.
Further, though these numbers don’t make good reading for a number 6 batsman of any side, it has brought to light an alarming fact, of all the batsmen to have played Test cricket, at the number six position, for any country in the history of cricket (minimum 20 tests at number 6), Marsh officially, has the worst batting record.
Marsh's 25 innings in that position, has recorded just 473 runs, an average of 19.7. This includes just one-half century and 4 ducks. South Africa’s JP Duminy is the next worst number 6 batsman ever has managed to rack up 622 runs in 26 innings, easily outscoring the Aussie. Further, the left-hander has an average 25.91 with one century and four fifties.
More importantly, Duminy has fared better playing in other positions for the Proteas, justifying to an extent his inclusion in the South African side currently playing New Zealand. 32-year-old Duminy has played 42 Tests, scored 1982 runs at an average of 34.77, with 6 tons and 8 fifties to his name.
Marsh, on the other hand, has quite pitiable test stats in general. In 21 Tests, the Australian has scored 674 runs at a worrying average of just 21.7. These numbers are atrocious for any top-6 batsman, let alone one whose primary job in the Australian team is to score runs.
An unpleasant surprise:-
Not so long ago, Marsh was dropped from the Australian squad that faced South Africa, after he scored a duck and 26 in the first Test. In fact, Marsh’s inclusion for the ongoing tour of India raised more than a few eyebrows, given that he hasn’t recreated the form that got him into the Australian Test side, in the first place.
Marsh was chosen to play the first Test in Pune on account of his abilities with the ball and the Australian selectors’ obsession to play an all-rounder. Moreover, given India's penchant to produce flat wickets, which makes life hard for bowlers, the Aussies were keen to have an additional bowler to ease the burden on the rest of the attack.
But as things turned out, the seamers have hardly been needed in the first two Tests, with Nathan Lyon and Steve O’keefe bowling 54 of the 74 overs in Pune. Moreover, Steve Smith bowled Marsh only for 5 overs in Bangalore. The 25-year old’s woeful numbers in the ongoing tour so far, mean that his place in the squad will undoubtedly come under heavy scrutiny ahead of the third Test in Ranchi.
Breaking a jinx:-
Having said this, Marsh can take solace from the fact that no other Australian batsman has made the number 6 spot their own. Both, Callum Ferguson and Nic Maddinson have both failed to make the most of the opportunities handed to them this past summer. In fact, Australia’s number six batsmen have contributed just 151 runs in the past 14 Test innings, which is also the equal lowest average managed by that middle order position in the past 125 years. On Tuesday, Michael Clarke reminisced how he asked Steve Smith why Marsh was selected on the tour to India. The Aussie skipper responded by saying “He is playing spin better than anybody else”.
In fact, Australia’s number 6 batsmen have contributed just 151 runs in the past 14 Test innings, which is the lowest amount of runs scored by that position in the 125-year history of the game. On Tuesday, Michael Clarke reminisced how he asked Steve Smith why Marsh was selected on the tour to India. The Aussie skipper responded by saying “He is playing spin better than anybody else”.
Running out of time:-
While that response might hold true on unresponsive Australian pitches, Marsh is yet to impress against spin in the subcontinent. Having fallen twice to Ravindra Jadeja and once to Ravichandran Ashwin so far. As good a player as Marsh has been in the shorter formats of the game, he is yet to transfer that ability into the Test arena. While Australians continue to wait for his breakthrough performance in Tests, they surely won’t wait much longer.
Last but not the least, Mitch Marsh fans can take solace in the fact that, Marsh is only the third worst number 6 of all time, taking into account a minimum of 20 innings rather than 20 tests, of course!