Former Australian World Series Cricket wicket-keeper Rod Marsh is still amazed at how young Kerry Packer was when he took on the cricket establishment with his WSC revolution.
“The amazing thing to me was that he was only 38 years of age,” Marsh told www.cricket.com.au from Sharjah, where Australia defeated Afghanistan overnight.
“It was amazing to think that this young man took this great gamble – although he probably didn’t see it as a gamble."
Marsh, who said he got on well with Packer despite their different views on the merits of Ashley Mallett’s ability, described him as a larger than life figure.
“When he said anything, people listened”.
As well as getting players a better deal, Packer saw the big picture, saw how cricket could be better televised, and saw how players could add value to telecasts as commentators.
His legacy also includes the fact that generations of cricketers have been able to become fulltime cricket professionals, something that nobody – well, nobody other than one man - had forseen through the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
Marsh also said he had no post-WSC discomfort playing alongside non-WSC cricketers nor did he have concerns with former powerful administrator, Sir Donald Bradman.
“He was always great to talk cricket to, he was the greatest batsman ever,” Marsh said, reminiscing about a private lunch with Sir Donald in Adelaide.
“I am not going to say there wasn’t any bad blood between any of us and Bradman, I can only speak for myself and there was no bad blood on my behalf”.
And playing with non-WSC cricketers after Packer and the ACB made peace wasn’t an issue either, he said.
“After all, we are all cricketers. It would be like asking me about having people of different nationalities in your side.
“Cricketers are cricketers and I am comfortable playing with or against anyone”.
Marsh also called for a rethink on the status of WSC official statistics.
While he has no particular interest in statistics or records, he thought WSC stats should count.
Further than that, he suggested that a line should have been drawn under cricket statistics at the end of the century due to fundamental cricket changes that make it difficult to compare the modern game to cricket, even since the 1990s.
The statisticians should have started a new set with the start of the new century.
Marsh found it difficult to definitively rate WSC as the toughest cricket ever – it was the toughest in his experience but he never toured India, which he suspected could have been as tough against the legendary spinners of that era, Prasanna, Bedi and Chandrasakhar.
That would have been a difficult challenge although certainly not as life threatening as facing the bouncer warfare offered by the West Indies fast bowlers of the WSC era.
He also gave the WSC’s then-revolutionary drop in pitches a good mark and said they would have rated as good Test wickets compared to today’s strips.
They were all different, some bounced more and some bounced less but that was good for cricketers, forcing them to think about their games and to watch and assess conditions carefully before going out to bat.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 26 August, 2012 5:17PM AEST