ADELAIDE, (Reuters) – Shaun Marsh and Tim Paine repaid the faith shown in them by Australia’s selectors and silenced their critics at least for a while as they combined for a key partnership in the second Ashes test against England yesterday.
The duo’s recall for the first two tests of the series was greeted with reactions ranging from bemusement to outright abuse, with former test spinner Stuart MacGill dubbing the selectors “morons masquerading as mentors”.
The selection panel, however, may be forgiven for feeling a sense of vindication after Marsh scored an unbeaten 126, while Paine chipped in with a timely 57.
“I haven’t thought about all the incidental noise about my selection for the team,” said Marsh.
“Six months ago I wasn’t sure whether I’d be back here. I’d always dreamt of getting back in. I’ve just tried to come in and feel nice and relaxed. I’ve felt good about my game the last three or four months.”
Marsh and Paine came together with the match delicately balanced with Australia on 209 for five in their first innings on the second day at Adelaide Oval.
They combined for an 85-run partnership that turned the match, perhaps decisively, in the home team’s favour.
They were aided by a little luck and some astute decision-making — both players were given out leg before wicket to James Anderson before having the decision overturned on review.
Marsh was more measured than Paine for much of the day before cutting loose and notching up his fifth test century, and his first against England.
The left-hander scored a century on debut in 2011 but later missed two years while overcoming a serious back injury. He had averaged a touch over 36 in his previous 24 tests, a mundane return for a specialist batsman.
Paine’s return at the age of 32 was even more extraordinary. The wicketkeeper-batsman from Tasmania had suffered a broken right index finger in 2010 that required multiple surgeries and helped keep him out of the test team for seven years.
He could not even make his state team at the start of this season, but looked every bit a test player on Sunday despite twice being struck on the same finger.
Paine received treatment during a drinks break but carried on batting and duly took his place behind the stumps when Australia took to the field to bowl.
“He was brilliant today, it was hard work this morning with the new ball,” said Marsh. “He got hit on the finger but he’s fine.”