From a fringe Australia player to World Cup star and churning out BBL runs, he won’t want 2021 to end
In the pivotal eighth over, with the game in the balance, an unwavering Marsh never let Zahir dictate and hammered the second ball of the over – a tossed up delivery in similar fashion to which deceived Inglis – through extra cover for a boundary.
Once upon a time Marsh might have unwisely tried to replicate the aggression but, instead, he caressed the next delivery around the corner for two runs then calmly took an easy single to completely change the momentum in three balls.
He had in the past been criticised for getting too bogged down against spin early in his innings, but this was clearly a confident batter toying with the best of them. An exasperated Zahir looked bereft of answers and the crowd had been muted like everyone there knew the game was basically over.
No one, probably not even Marsh himself, could have predicted this exalted status 12 months ago when he returned back from his latest injury woe, a dodgy ankle at the time, which negated his bowling initially and made him relinquish Scorchers’ captaincy.
His BBL season followed the usual frustrating template for Marsh – a handful of belligerent knocks dominating the backend of Scorchers’ innings sprinkled around failures. Marsh still did enough, however, to be selected in Australia’s T20 tour of New Zealand in February and March where he sparkled in the opener in Christchurch with 45 batting at No. 4.
“Coaching staff came up to me in the West Indies and said you’ll bat three. I jumped at the opportunity,” Marsh said during the West Indies tour. “I wanted to have a presence, be in the contest, go out there and play my game.”
Australia coach Justin Langer recognised that Marsh’s brute force could be effectively utilised in the powerplay and believed he had the maturity to handle the added responsibility. As his coach at Western Australia, Langer had been part of several important junctures in Marsh’s career. After he took the reins in late 2012, Langer helped instill a greater work ethic into the youngster who had a reputation of not wanting it enough. Five years later, Langer backed the then 25-year-old as captain of Western Australia.
With his long-time mentor igniting a career revival, Marsh was in good spirits heading into the T20 World Cup magnified by time well spent at home where he got engaged to girlfriend Greta Mack.
“I know that when I’ve prepared really well I go out there full of confidence and that’s certainly been the case for the last few months,” Marsh said before the T20 World Cup.
Almost predictably, considering his rollercoaster of a career, Marsh’s campaign didn’t go seamlessly and he was even dropped for Australia’s group game against England, which was their only loss of the tournament.
“I was pretty gutted when I got the news but four days later I was back in the team,” Marsh later told SEN. “The rest is history.”
He now clearly has an aura about him and a fear factor where opponents hold their breath until he’s dismissed. Earlier in the week, Sydney Thunder looked anxious even though they were defending 200 until Marsh holed out in a rare failure during this hot streak.
One almost needs to do a double take when he falls cheaply these days, which speaks to how much Marsh’s standing has changed over the course of an unforgettable year he probably hopes will never end.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth