Rod Marsh, legendary 'keeper-batter, dies aged 74

Australian cricket in mourning after one of its greatest players and most influential figures passed away following a heart attack last week

Former Test and ODI wicketkeeper-batter Rod Marsh has been remembered as "a colossal figure in Australian cricket" after he passed away at the age of 74.

Marsh suffered a heart attack in Queensland last week and died in an Adelaide hospital on Friday morning.

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

Image Id: FB75820FB3714CBC9A8099CAFFD562F3 Image Caption: Honoured with Dennis Lillee at the MCG in 2017-18 // Getty

One of Test cricket's greatest-ever wicketkeepers and a dashing left-handed batter, Marsh played 96 Tests for Australia between 1970 and 1984, snaring 355 dismissals – a world record at the time – and posting three Test hundreds.

His partnership with legendary fast bowler Dennis Lillee is the most prolific bowler-wicketkeeper union in Test history, with 'caught Marsh, bowled Lillee' recorded 95 times. Having retired together in 1984, their record still stands today.

A hugely popular member of Australia's successful side of the 1970s, Marsh was a household name alongside the likes of Lillee, Jeff Thomson and the Chappell brothers.

His contribution to the game continued after he retired from playing, starting with a fruitful stint at the head of the Australian Cricket Academy in Adelaide, where he worked with the likes of Ricky Ponting and helped usher in a dominant era of Australian cricket.

Image Id: 90E983CA759947509AAC1DC6EE525E33 Image Caption: Marsh, Chappell and Lillee retired after the 1984 Sydney Test // Getty

He then moved to England to head up their academy before becoming a national selector, resigning just after the old enemy's famous Ashes triumph in 2005.

He went on to head up Australia's selection panel between 2014 and 2016.

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

Former Test wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist said he was "absolutely shattered" when he heard the news.

Rod Marsh slams 26 off an over in classic ODI

"I can't quite believe it, I just thought he was invincible," Gilchrist, who equalled Marsh in playing 96 Tests, told SEN.

"He was my absolute hero and  inspiration to all I set out to achieve and have a crack at. It really was him; he was just an idol, he helped me pursue what I wanted to do.

"To have him come into my life and have such a profound impact on my sporting life and then personal life as a mate - I still can't believe that he was in my group of friends, in my friendship circle.

"I can't believe it. He seemed unreal, one of those guys that was on TV. They just didn't seem like they were real people, like superheroes.

Image Id: 4E1043C0E4314E98BCACD8015A854CBE Image Caption: Marsh is recognised as one of the greatest players in Australia history // Getty

"It's going to be an emotional time and a rollercoaster as we reflect on what he meant, and think about his family, Ros, Jamie, Paul, Dan and the extended family.

"They lose such a wonderful father, husband, grandfather, all of those sorts of titles. They lose an icon and the nation will mourn with them.

"It's certainly a rollercoaster, then we'll reflect on the good, fun stuff. He was such a rogue."

Rod Marsh's career numbers


M: 96 | Runs: 3633 | Ave: 26.51 | 100s: 3 | 50s: 16 | HS: 132 | Dismissals: 355 | Ct: 343 | St: 12


M: 92 | Runs: 1225 | Ave: 20.08 | SR: 82.26 | 50s: 4 | HS: 66 | Dismissals: 124 | Ct: 120 | St: 4


M: 257 | Runs: 11067 | Ave: 31.17 | 100s: 12 | 50s: 55 | HS: 236 | Dismissals: 869 | Ct: 803 | St: 66

The careers of Marsh and Lillee, born less than two years apart in Perth, will forever be inextricably linked.

Having made their Test debuts in the same series in 1970-71, the pair retired together alongside Greg Chappell after the 1984 Sydney Test against Pakistan.

Both men finished their careers with 355 Test dismissals, Marsh with the gloves and Lillee with the ball.

When Marsh was named one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year in 1982, the publication remarked that "few partnerships between bowler and wicket-keeper have had so profound an impact on the game".

Image Id: BE495277E76945A0AB2F4796808DF595 Image Caption: Lillee and Marsh - friends, teammates, legends // Getty

"Rod was a colossal figure in Australian cricket who gave close to 50 years of incredible service," said current Test skipper Pat Cummins, whose team – many of whom had close contact with Marsh during his time as a selector – will today wear black armbands in the first Test against Pakistan as a tribute.

"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.

Image Id: DC43C347B06E45228C9EC03A0420AE32 Image Caption: Walking out behind Greg Chappell at Trent Bridge in 1977 // Getty

"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."

Having been given the nickname 'Iron Gloves' early in his career due to his reputation for fumbling behind the stumps, Marsh developed rapidly to become almost flawless with the gloves, especially standing back to the rapid pace of Thomson and Lillee.

While he is best remembered for his glovework, he was also a dangerous batter down the order and was the first Australian wicketkeeper to score a hundred in a Test match, a blistering innings against Pakistan in 1982 of 118 from 123 balls, including 10 fours and four sixes.

His career numbers would have been greater if not for the two-year interruption for World Series Cricket, which is not recognised in official Test and ODI records.

Image Id: 433F08B0D580432FA6D53DDE47482724 Image Caption: With David Warner in 2015 // Getty

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

"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 the Marsh family, Rod's friends and teammates with whom he created so many special cricketing memories."