Sunday, October 2, 2022

Cricket Australia: Vale Rod Marsh

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Australian cricket is mourning the loss of Rodney Marsh, a brilliant wicketkeeper, hard-hitting batter and outstanding servant of Australian cricket, who has died aged 74.

As one of the most popular and beloved members of the fabled Australian team of the 1970s and early 1980s, Marsh left an indelible impression on spectators with his athletic wicketkeeping and often brutal batting.

Marsh’s partnership with Australian teammate and fellow West Australian Dennis Lillee is part of cricket legend, the dismissal ‘caught Marsh, bowled Lillee’ featuring on scoreboards across the cricketing world 95 times in Test matches.

Born in the Perth suburb of Armadale, Marsh honed his cricket skills alongside older brother Graham. Both represented WA as juniors before Graham forged a successful career as a professional golfer.

Marsh made his debut for WA in the 1968-69 season and went on to play 257 first-class matches, scoring 11,067 runs at 31.17 and completing 869 dismissals before his retirement in 1984.

For Australia, Marsh played 96 Test matches scoring 3633 runs at 26.51 and completing 355 dismissals, and 92 one-day internationals making 1225 runs at 20.08 with 124 dismissals – a career disrupted for two years by his involvement in World Series Cricket.

Marsh was something of a pioneer, selected to make his debut in the 1970-71 Ashes series largely for his batting at a time when wicketkeeper was usually a specialist position.

Marsh’s selection would be justified in the first Test against Pakistan in Adelaide in 1972-73 when he became the first Australian wicketkeeper to score a Test century – the first of three.

As his career progressed, Marsh would become renowned for his athletic takes and sure hands – belying an early nickname of “Iron Gloves” – particularly when keeping to the ferocious pace of fellow Seventies icons Lillee and Jeff Thomson. During his career, Marsh held both the Australian and Test wicketkeeping records for dismissals.

After his playing career Marsh had a substantial impact on the development of elite cricketers in Australia and across the globe in roles including inaugural coach and later director of the Australian Cricket Academy and as director of England and Wales Cricket Board National Academy.

Marsh also served as Cricket Australia’s Manager of Elite Coaching Development and as Australia’s Chairman of Selectors.

Marsh received the Order of the British Empire in 1981 for his services to sport and is a member of the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame, Sport Australia Hall of Fame and the ICC Hall of Fame.

He is survived by his wife Ros and children Paul, Dan and Jamie.

Cricket Australia chairman Dr Lachlan Henderson said: “This is a tremendously sad day for Australian cricket and for all those who loved and admired Rod Marsh.

“Rod will be forever remembered for the way he played the game and the pleasure he brought crowds as a member of some great Australian teams.  ‘Caught Marsh, bowled Lillee’ has iconic status in our game.

“Rod also made an enormous contribution to the game by identifying, coaching and mentoring many future stars in his various roles as coach and director at cricket academies in Australia and other cricket playing nations.

“Our thoughts are with Rod’s wife Ros, his sons Paul, Dan and Jamie and the extended Marsh family, his many friends and teammates with whom he created so many special memories.”

Australia men’s captain Pat Cummins said: “Rod was a colossal figure in Australian cricket who gave close to 50 years of incredible service to Australian cricket, from his debut in the Ashes series of 1970/71, through to his time as National Selector, when many of the current group of Australian men’s players came into close contact with him.

“He was brilliant to deal with because he knew the game inside-out, but also had a way of dealing with you to put you at your ease.

“I, along with countless other people in Australia, grew up hearing the stories of him as a fearless and tough cricketer, but his swashbuckling batting and his brilliance behind the stumps over more than a decade made him one of the all-time greats of our sport, not just in Australia, but globally.

“When I think of Rod I think of a generous and larger-than-life character who always had a life-loving, positive and relaxed outlook, and his passing leaves a massive void in the Australian cricket community.

“My thoughts, and the thoughts of the entire tour party here in Pakistan, are with Rod’s wife Ros and their family at this terrible time.” 

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