Western Australia coach Justin Langer believes Shaun Marsh is in career-best form and has revealed his bid to win a recall to Australia’s Test side has been inspired by Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara.
Marsh has been the standout batsman of the domestic season so far, leading the run-scoring charts in the JLT One-Day Cup in the Warriors title-winning campaign before notching a half-century in WA’s JLT Sheffield Shield opener last week.
And Langer says the catalyst for his hot form was watching Sangakkara peel off an effortless century for English county side Surrey at the end of the Australian’s three-month stint with Yorkshire.
“One of the best things that happened to him, he played for Yorkshire and in his last game of the county season he watched Kumar Sangakkara, one of the all-time great players, get a hundred,” Langer explained on Melbourne radio station SEN.
“Kumar got 10 or 11 hundreds in county cricket this year, it was absolutely freakish.
“(Marsh) came back and said one of the best things about it was how relaxed (Sangakkara) was and he hit every ball in the middle of the bat.”
More runs for in-form Marsh in Shield opener
Having watched Sangakkara sign off from first-class cricket by posting his 10th ton of the season for Surrey before eventually falling for 164, Marsh had gained a new perspective on batting according to Langer.
“He said, ‘When I went out to bat in that innings, I wanted to be like Kumar,'” Langer continued.
Marsh struck 78 in Yorkshire’s first dig and then, after Surrey asked the visitors to follow on, an unbeaten 125 in the second.
While the match at The Oval – Surrey’s London home ground and a regular Test venue – finished in a draw, the left-hander found himself in a new frame of mind as he returned to Perth weeks out from the Australian summer.
“He came back realising that if you’re tense and uptight and worried about what could happen, it doesn’t necessarily work,” Langer said.
“But when he’s relaxed, there’s no better player.
“What I’ve seen – and I say this sincerely, I’ve seen him bat since he was a little kid – I haven’t seen him bat as well as he has at the moment.
“Whether that gets him a gig with the Australian team, only time will tell.”
The 34-year-old, who struck 412 runs in the JLT One-Day Cup, took on the new ball in WA’s Shield-opener against Tasmania, posting 63 and 11 in their 301-run victory over Tasmania at the WACA.
Langer also talked up fellow Warrior Hilton Cartwright for the coveted No.6 spot, suggesting he should be a “shoe-in” due to his first-class batting average, which sits at 50.80 after 24 matches.
“What I’m most looking forward to in these three shield games is who puts their hand up,” said Langer.
“The person who does that by scoring should get selected. In this group of five or six players (contending for the No.6 spot), they’re going to need balls of steel because they’re distracted by getting selected in the Ashes.
“That (performing under pressure) is what they need when they’re actually selected in the Ashes team. I’m looking forward to seeing the next two rounds.”
Langer meanwhile discussed the non-selection of veteran Michael Klinger for the first Shield round, citing less-than-impressive first-class returns last summer (431 runs at 23.94 in 10 Shield games) as the reason behind his omission.
“Look, a really tough call but he didn’t have a great season last year, he’ll be the first to admit that,” the 46-year-old said of Klinger, who today departed Perth to play in the Bangladesh Premier League and won’t feature for WA before Christmas.
“If you go through our list … I don’t know who else is going to miss out. Some tough calls have to be made, it’s a tough gig.
“But if you take the emotions of out of it, which can sometimes be hard as well, you normally come up with the right call.”
2017-18 International Fixtures:
Magellan Ashes Series
First Test Gabba, November 23-27.
Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night).
Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18.
Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30.
Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test).
Gillette ODI Series v England
First ODI MCG, January 14.
Second ODI Gabba, January 19.
Third ODI SCG, January 21.
Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26.
Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF
Prime Minister’s XI
PM’s XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2.
Gillette T20 INTL Series
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3.
Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7.
Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10.
Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13
Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21