Fans Want Best Team Selected – Langer Confused

Australian Coach Justin Langer mounted a passionate defence of the much maligned Shaun Marsh when speaking with TAB Radio this week. Having either ignored or forgotten the nearly 20 years of inconsistent performances from the 35-year-old Western Australian, Langer not only expressed confusion at the level of vitriol directed towards him but suggested he was the best Australian bat too.

That noise we’re talking about, you can’t get distracted by it, Mental toughness and concentration is about letting go. Do your thing, enjoy what you’re doing and when he (Marsh) does it, there’s no better player in Australia.

It does confuse me. He had a poor series against Pakistan and he’d be the first to admit that but around that he does so many good things. He’s such a good player when he lets go and plays with that freedom he is a world-class player.

Langer on TAB Radio November 2018

No, these are not from a Year Five debating team’s argument about why Shaun Marsh should be in the Test team they are the thoughts of the Australian Coach. Like almost anything that comes from him or the selectors to justify their decisions, it is ill considered, contradicts other positions they hold, and/or treats fans with an unbelievable level of contempt.

Do your thing, enjoy what you’re doing and when he (Marsh) does it, there’s no better player in Australia.

Huh? There are only three possible responses to this ridiculous claim. 1. Marsh has never done his thing and enjoyed what he’s doing. 2. Langer is trying to sell us a bald face lie. 3. The Aussie Coach is a worse judge of talent than anybody else in this country because in a game that is won by scoring runs and taking wickets there is no measurement in which Shaun Marsh is the best player in Australia.

It does confuse me. He had a poor series against Pakistan and he’d be the first to admit that but around that he does so many good things. He’s such a good player when he lets go and plays with that freedom he is a world-class player.

Perhaps if Langer spent less time trying to convince us, and himself, of Marsh’s worth to the team he’d be a little less confused at the outrage that surrounds the seemingly unquestioned selection of the veteran Western Australian. Perhaps if he focused more on ensuring Australia put the best side on the park than justifying the selection of certain players he would know that his characterisation of Marsh’s form is back to front.

Rather than Pakistan being one ‘poor series’, the Ashes performance was actually one good series in the middle of four poor ones. While his performance last summer were unquestionably invaluable in Australia regaining the Ashes his form before and after warrant his position being questioned. In the two series prior to the Ashes, Marsh scored 229 runs at 22.9 and in the two post he has scored just 161 at 13.41.

Still confused Justin?

What is actually confusing is the Australian Coach, on the record as wanting to ‘elevate the level of expectation of what it takes to wear the baggy green cap’, making an impassioned defence of a batter proven to be flaky time and time again. Before Langer and all other members of the Shaun Marsh Fan Club point to his imperious ODI century last weekend as proof otherwise, it is worth noting that for every international century he has three times as many scores under 10.

Even when you add his 50’s tally into the equation it still falls short of his single figure scores. I know Australian Cricket isn’t what it once was but does the Australian Coach really expect fans to believe ‘there is no better player in Australia’ than a man more likely to score less than 10 than more than 50?

The most surprising thing about Langer and the Australian Selectors unwaverable support of Shaun Marsh, a 35-year-old with 18 years of exposed form, is that it seems to be based on potential rather than production. Yet when confronted with talented young players the opposite seems to be true.

Last summer, whilst admittedly the coach of Western Australia rather than Australia, Justin Langer actively agitated for the removal of Matthew Renshaw as Australia’s opener. The first Australian to score 500 runs before turning 21, Renshaw had shown he had both the ability and temperament to make it at Test level.

His Test average of 36.64, although more than Marsh in 34 Tests, was a concern for Langer though as he plumped for Marsh or Cameron Bancroft to replace him. Perhaps tellingly given his support for Marsh now, Langer was more concerned with his favourites getting an opportunity than incumbency or what was best for the Australian cricket team.

While Langer is more than happy to accept the inconsistency of Marsh blinded as he is by his ‘potential’, he isn’t so forgiving from a young player. Marcus Harris was the youngest Australian player to score a first class 150 when he did so as an 18-year-old in 2010-11. Before he left Western Australia for Victoria for the 2016-17 season he had scored an 81 and unbeaten 158 in the 2014-15 Sheffield Shield final. The leading run-scorer in this years Sheffield Shield, Harris is clearly a talented player but was Langer upset to see him go. No would the short answer. “His performances have been mediocre with flashes of brilliance,” Langer told The West Australian newspaper.

If only Langer could watch Shaun Marsh with the same critical eye. If he did he would understand that no matter how imperious Marsh sometimes looks, his performances have been mediocre with flashes of brilliance too. He might also be a whole lot less confused as to why the rest of Australia’s patience has run out.


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