Shaun Marsh could be in line for a surprise return to top-level cricket after being named in the Perth Scorchers squad to face the Hobart Hurricanes in Friday night's Big Bash decider.
If Marsh was to play it would cap a remarkable recovery for the 30-year-old, after only last week being ruled out of the Australian tour of South Africa because of a torn calf muscle sustained in the fifth ODI against England on January 26. Marsh was replaced by Phillip Hughes, who had been overlooked for the tour in favour of Marsh and uncapped Tasmanian batsman Alex Doolan.
The initial snubbing of 24-year-old Hughes, who has a vastly superior first-class record this season with 549 runs at an average of 61 in contrast to Marsh's 301 runs at 27.36, prompted a fierce debate among the Australian cricketing fraternity, with many questioning how Marsh's record justified selection.
Scorchers paceman Pat Cummins said the return of Marsh would be ''a massive boost'' for a team that has made it to the last two BBL finals, only to lose both of them.
''Shaun is one of the best T20 batsmen in the world, and we're hoping he will be available, but we won't know for sure until tomorrow,'' Cummins said.
''They have a really strong line-up, with no obvious weakness. Some of their batsmen have made a lot of runs, they have a couple of world-class bowlers, and they'll have [Australian T20 captain] George Bailey, too, so to have Shaun back would be a massive boost.''
Cummins believes the Scorchers have a wonderful chance to finally claim the BBL title, singling out the big-hitting opener Craig Simmons as their key man. Simmons has scored two centuries this BBL campaign, including a breathtaking 112 off 58 balls on Wednesday night against the Sydney Sixers, which included 11 sixes and helped the Scorchers to 5-193 and a narrow win.
''I hadn't seen much of [Simmons] before … but that was some of the best hitting I've ever seen,'' Cummins said.