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Only way is up for Marsh
Only way is up for Marsh

Watch the highlights of Shaun Marsh's debut Test century and what strikes you most is how still he keeps his head.

Not stationary, as in static or rigid. Rather, his eye line is perf- ectly horizontal and his head squarely behind the line of the ball.

It is a textbook batting technique and explains how Marsh produced one of Australia's most exquisite innings of the past decade.

It is hard to imagine a player cresting a higher peak in his career or contemplate how far he would slide in the following year.

Marsh will today start a WA second XI match at Hobart's suburban Lindisfarne ground - 436 days, 8650km and a lifetime from his Pallekele glory.

Marsh's career is at rock bottom, according to WA coach Justin Langer, but it could also prove to be the most pivotal time of his life.

"Going from a Test century on debut to playing second XI in Hobart is pretty hard to imagine," Langer said.

"But hopefully he can look back to this being the best time of his life rather than the worst time."

Langer has considerable empathy for the 29-year-old who spent more than two decades wondering if he would live up to the achievements of father Geoff, who played 50 Tests, then surpassed them in one remarkable afternoon.

Marsh has not yet found a way to fill the vacuum beyond that life-changing debut.

He was suspended by the WACA after a drunken night out in Cape Town during the Champions League last month and will be required to complete a longer penance before he is considered for senior selection again.

"Shaun spent his whole life wanting to play Test cricket for Australia," Langer said.

"The day he did that he also scored the century he had wanted his whole life.

"It was as though he reached Mt Everest and achieved all his life dreams in six hours in Colombo.

"What did he have to do next?"

Complicating matters for Marsh was a $400,000 bonus he got amid the Champions League drama when his Indian Premier League team Kings XI Punjab exercised an option for the 2013 tournament.

His Warriors career may be in peril because of his off-field choices but the lucrative Twenty20 circus will continue to reward him handsomely to strike a cricket ball hard and often.

It remains to be seen whether the IPL contract is a signpost to Marsh's future, a lucrative endorsement of his undoubted skills or a distraction from his bid for rehabilitation in his home town.

Langer says Marsh's fate rests with himself.

"It is up to Shaun," he said. "When someone hits rock bottom, it is a pivotal time in his life.

"It is up to him what choices he makes, but he has to relax.

"I've told him not to be afraid to fail ... he's got a Test hundred and we all know that he can play.

"We can help him but he has to help himself first."