Tom Moody’s tough talk leads Shaun Marsh to the Baggy Green

Peter Lalor, in The Australian, 6 September 2011

Pic from ZeeNews

SHAUN Marsh is set to make his Test debut in Kandy this week, but he has had the baggy green withheld and withdrawn too often to get ahead of himself.  The West Australian’s father, Geoff, was a veteran of 50 Tests and although Shaun grew up around cricketers and was exposed to all elements of the game, there was one thing that was off limits — his dad’s baggy green. “He kept it away from us kids,” Shaun said. “We didn’t see it too many times. It was hidden.”

Geoff wanted his children to understand the value of the cap, to know it was no play thing, nothing that was handed down from father to son. It was a sacred object and one you had to earn.

Shaun has had to learn the hard way. He was included in the Test squad to play at No 6 but learned a week ago, on the eve of theGallematch, that Usman Khawaja had beaten him for the position with a brilliant knock in the tour game.Marsh admits to being disappointed and steeled himself to be the extra batsman for the rest of the tour. Fortunately for him, Rianna Ponting is about to have a baby and Ricky Ponting has left the island to be with her.

The 28-year-old batsman has had a long and difficult journey to this point. Being the son of a famous Test cricketer was not always easy for him. He suffered with comparison when young and admits that it was only as he matured that he realised it had a lot of benefits too. “In the last five or six years, I’ve always felt that it’s been a good thing,” Marsh said. “I’ve always had him there for advice.

“Since I’ve started playing in the Australian (ODI) team in the last three or four years, he’s been fantastic. I enjoy what he has to say and I listen to it with both ears. To be honest, he doesn’t say too much, but the things that he does say are pretty crucial. He’s always been a big believer in going out there and enjoying your cricket. He always had a really good work ethic and he’s tried to instil that into me. I’ve sort of realised that in the past four or five years. It takes a lot of hard work to get to this sort of level. I’ve certainly taken that advice on board.”

Marsh was something of a slow learner and had his troubles as a younger batsman for WA. In 2007 he was suspended indefinitely for ill-discipline off the field. The culture in the West had allowed young cricketers to get away with a lot, but the arrival of coach Tom Moody put an end to that. And the former Test player told Marsh that he would not have a place in the side unless he changed his attitude.

“I started poorly at first-class cricket and that was due to me not working hard enough,” Marsh said. “When Tom Moody came on board to WA, that was a turning point in my career. I could have gone one way but I wanted to play cricket and I wanted to play forAustralia.

“I remember when he first came and took the reins as coach, I had a meeting with him and we sort of sat down and he panned out things for me. He pretty much said: ‘You can stay with me and work hard and do things my way and I’ll make you a better cricketer or you can walk out the door.’ I owe Tom a great deal for that and I certainly turned things around when he took over.”

In the past three seasons, Marsh has lifted his game immeasurably, averaging more than 50 and finally being a consistent contributor. The Baggy Green may not be locked away that much longer.

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