Shaun Marsh had a pain in the ass. Now he is hoping to be exactly that to South Africa in their bid to win their white-ball series in Australia.
Marsh missed the first one-day international in Perth on Sunday because of surgery to an abscess that grew close to where the sun don’t shine: on his buttock.
But the Aussies are hopeful he will be fit to take guard at No 3 in Adelaide on Friday and help them level matters to set up a decider in Hobart on Sunday.
And how they need him to. In Perth their batting‚ in a word‚ stank — they were 8/3 and 89/7‚ and flushed away for 152 in 38.1 overs.
The pitch was‚ admittedly‚ fresh as a burst of air freshener. But that didn’t stop SA winning by six wickets with more than 20 overs to spare.
Not for nothing is Marsh nicknamed SOS: he scored two centuries in the ODI series against England in June.
All good‚ except that Australia lost both of those games — as they have 10 of their 11 ODIs this year.
Still‚ vice-captain Alex Carey hopes Marsh will “probably play a bit of an anchor role around some of those top order explosive players … it’s a little bit of stability up the top”.
The Australians have indeed been explosive‚ but not in a good way.
They’ve crashed and burned in 17 of their last 19 completed ODIs‚ a tale of woe that stretches back to January last year — or before they were done for ball-tampering in the Newlands Test.
You had to feel for Carey.
There’s not a lot to being a vice-captain at the best of times‚ but explaining poor performances to the press can’t rank high on his shortlist of duties.
“The work we’re doing off the field with JL [coach Justin Langer] and the players coming in‚ we’re doing so much good stuff and it’s going to start to show‚” Carey told reporters. “We’re really confident that it’s going to turn really soon.
“We don’t feel under pressure internally … we obviously want to win‚ that’s what we’re playing for.
“I guess the pressure is to maybe start performing but what we’re doing away from game day is sensational‚ so it’s going to turn really quickly.”
Unfortunately the scorecard doesn’t reflect how hard you’re trying in training. But Carey isn’t alone in his sanitised view of what it takes to win.
“We pride ourselves in working hard and hopefully the results can take care of themselves‚” Andile Phehlukwayo said.
He had a more interesting idea of what it means to share a dressingroom with players like Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada.
“They force you to be at the level they’re at‚ and that a good thing in the team environment‚” Phehlukwayo said. “If any individual had to come and bowl with those guys they’d learn a hell of a lot.
“They’ve got a lot of experience and a lot of talent‚ and a lot of things up their sleeves.”
Phehlukwayo would seem to be stepping up to that level. He‚ Steyn and Rabada took 5/81 from 21 overs on Sunday.
That’s a pain in the ass for any batting team.