Johnny Come Lately at the Last Chance Saloon

Realistically, this 2nd Test against India which started today at Bangalore is Marcus North’s last chance to secure himself a place in the Australian team for the Ashes.

His scores prior to today make for pretty gloomy reading, if you are a Marcus North fan. I wouldn’t say I’m president of the Marcus North fan club, or even secretary, or god help me club mascot  (even on the weekends, when there’s no one else to help out), but let’s just say I don’t have as big a downer on him as a lot of folk who think he’s not Test quality. He is stodgy as fuck to watch, and will make you cry with the sheer, mind-numbing tedium of his dour, earnest scoring, but 96 at Edgbaston last year as well as three hundreds in his first six Tests suggests he is of some use when he gets himself set.

Of course, this won’t be the first time he has left it to the last minute to pull his arse from out of the fire of imminent selectorial rejection. He saved his career in the series in New Zealand earlier this year where he followed up 112* in Wellington with 90 in Hamilton, only to have the pressure pile back onto his shoulders by not exceeding 20 and only reaching double figures a total of three times in the three Tests prior to this one. By any measure, his form coming into this Test was bloody diabolical.

The Australian selectors will want him to make a big score at Bangalore, not least because his success here will save them an almighty Ashes headache. More at home on flat decks than turning ones, he made the most of a drying wicket that had early on aided the spinners to finish on 43 not out at stumps, with his country on 285-5.

There were other performances that would have been similarly encouraging for Australia: Shane Watson continues to confound us all by posting consistently big scores while miraculously remaining entirely uninjured, and Ricky Ponting managed to steady the ship with Mike Hussey after a brief flurry of wickets fell after lunch.

But all eyes will be on Marcus North when he re-takes his guard tomorrow. He will be looking to kick on towards a big score*, and Australia will be eyeing at least 400.


*note that having written this, I have likely ensured he will be out first ball. Despite the best laid plans of mice, men and Australian batsmen, shit does happen.

One Response to “Johnny Come Lately at the Last Chance Saloon”

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