Lock him in.
Shaun Marsh has surely sealed his place in Australia’s first Test line-up after scoring a unbeaten century on day two of the tour match against a WICB President’s XI in Antigua.
The 31-year-old, effectively batting to retain his position ahead of state teammate Adam Voges, scored 118 not out to guide Australia to 6-205 at stumps in the three-day game.
It means the tourists still trail the hosts’ 382 by 177 runs with four first-innings wickets remaining but this match was always going to be one of individual performance, not overall results.
Opening the batting in place of the rested David Warner, Marsh had a sketchy start, dropped on four in the gully.
In a display mixing together patience and aggression, Marsh added 116 with Voges for the third wicket after dismissals of Chris Rogers (2) and Michael Clarke (15) had reduced Australia to 2-25.
When Voges was trapped LBW after tea by left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican (3-69) for 52, Marsh’s Test spot looked assured.
Voges, the 35-year-old in the form of his life, dropped his head and trudged slowly off the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium as he realised he’d probably missed his chance for a Test debut this time.
But Marsh wasn’t done, reaching his 14th first-class ton with a boundary late in the day.
“It’s always nice to score a few runs in a tour match before a Test series,” Marsh said.
“It’s nice to get out there, hit a few in the middle and as the innings progressed I felt really good out there.”
While Marsh’s success has solved one part of Australia’s Test line-up puzzle, some questions remain unanswered.
Fawad Ahmed was unable to add to his two wickets from day one and finished with 2-113 off 28 overs after he was a victim of a late flurry by allrounder Carlos Brathwaite (50no off 42 balls).
Incumbent spinner Nathan Lyon finished with two wickets as well when he claimed last man Miguel Cummins.
Marsh’s younger brother Mitchell, himself hoping to push his way back into the line-up for next week’s series opener in Dominica, began brightly on Thursday.
The allrounder claimed wickets off consecutive balls, including an absolute peach to bowl Marquino Mindlay, to finish with 2-40 off 14 overs.
But a brief innings of eight ended poorly as he top-edged a ball to fine leg which the wicketkeeper comfortably ran under to catch.
Clarke and Brad Haddin (1) also fell in ugly manners, suggesting both need a bit more time in the nets ahead of next week’s Test.