Mitch Marsh hammered two more nails into the coffin of Shane Watson’s Test career, and then revealed the pain he feels for the criticism his predecessor receives.
Taking over the Australian allrounder role from the much-maligned Watson, Marsh was unconvincing with the bat in the first innings but responded by administering a double-blow with the ball.
For all of Watson’s valuable qualities, it’s becoming obvious he is moving further and further away from being Australia’s first-choice allrounder – a decision which should kickstart Marsh’s career, not that he is getting any joy from it.
“It was quite tough to be honest because, for me, I’ve just got so much respect for Shane and he’s someone who I really enjoy working with and watching him do what he does,” Marsh said.
“Although sometimes he cops a bad rap he’s been a very good player for Australia over a number of years.
“To do what he’s done over 60 Test or however many he has played is a fantastic effort – he’s always played a part in winning teams for Australia.
“To be honest it was really hard to see the amount that he cops back home.”
Watson’s contribution at Lord’s was limited to a half-hour spell in the field as a substitute for Adam Voges (hip) and a shirtless flex from the dressing room which was broadcast around the world when caught by the TV cameras.
At his best, Watson’s ability with the ball was his strength – his knack of breaking key partnerships came to Australia’s rescue on many occasions.
It’s a skill which may have already been passed on to Marsh, who took 2-23 off eight economical overs in England’s first innings total of 312.
The 23-year-old was injected into the attack on Saturday with England’s recovery, thanks to a 145-run partnership between Alastair Cook and Ben Stokes, well underway.
He imposed himself on the contest immediately, removing Stokes, who played onto his stumps, for 87 in the second over of his spell.
Later, as Cook moved towards a morale-boosting century, Australian skipper Michael Clarke again tossed the ball to the younger Marsh brother.
Again, he was rewarded with a wicket – Cook bowled for 96.
“I’ve always seen myself as a batter and my bowling has been a bonus,” he said.
“But we know at this level if you want to be playing as an allrounder you need to be pretty equal.
“I’ve said it many times before my bowling is something I’m working on and want to keep improving.”
Marsh already has the ability to send the speed-o north of 140km/h – a trait coach Darren Lehmann demands of his fast bowling cartel.
Clearly he is a talent worth persisting with.