Like father, like son: Brave Marsh matches the old man

Mitch Marsh and dad Geoff created history with Australia's ODI World Cup triumph in India

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Like father, like son.

It was fitting that Geoff Marsh was in the stands of the cavernous Narendra Modi Stadium to see his son Mitch hold the World Cup trophy aloft.

Because when Glenn Maxwell scampered back for the victorious second run a little bit of history was created – the Marsh pair had become the first father-son duo to both play in an ODI World Cup final-winning team following Geoff's success in 1987.

And although diametrically different players, certainly in Mitch's eyes, the similarities between the Marsh World Cup of 1987 and Marsh World Cup of 2023 are striking.

Mitch Marsh and dad Geoff celebrate in the Aussie rooms in Ahmedabad after winning the World Cup // Instagram-mitchmarsh235

Both won the title as unfancied underdogs in India.

Both scored two centuries, and both finished as Australia's second-highest scorer.

Geoff finished with 428 runs, Mitch with 441.

Geoff opened in every innings, Mitch opened until Travis Head made his return from injury.

Like father, like son.

Well, almost.

The glaring difference between the campaigns were their strike rates.  

Geoff's was a leisurely 68.23, at least by modern standards, and Mitch's a whopping 107.56.

Even when you consider the overall tournament strike rates in those years (it was 74.48 in 1987 and 92.03 in 2023), the disparity is vast.

After his maiden World Cup century – 121 against Pakistan in his 258-run partnership with David Warner – Marsh was asked what his father's reaction was.

"It would have taken him four days to get that many," Marsh quipped.

"My dad's a man of few words. He was very happy for us. And we always chat after every game, so he was pumped."

Mitch Marsh and dad Geoff after the 2015 World Cup final when Mitch was part of the victorious 15-player squad but not the XI for the final // Getty

It may have been a throwaway line, but Marsh's role was to bat fast, regardless of the conditions.

This was the approach he took to the T20 World Cup in 2021 with great success, where his surprise elevation to No.3 proved a masterstroke.

The only match at this tournament where Marsh faced more than 20 balls but finished with a strike rate below 100 was against the Kiwis in Dharamsala.

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The arrival of Head forced selectors to make a tough call: keep Steve Smith at number three and find a new home for Marsh, or shift both Marsh and Smith down a slot, to three and four respectively. 

Smith's record at three is one of the strongest in ODI history, and the prolific batter has even put it on the record that three is his preferred slot in the format.

But Marsh got the nod and was given a simple instruction: don't change a thing.

The powerful West Australian said after his unbeaten 177 against Bangladesh that his approach to opening and batting at three was the same, with a plan to take on the bowlers right from the start.

"That New Zealand game was disappointing from a personal point of view because of the way I went about it and got stuck," Marsh told reporters in Pune following Australia's last group-stage match.

"I lost my intent … and went against what's worked for me in over the last 12 to 18 months.

"My whole game has been based on being brave and trusting that I'm good enough to do what I do, and if I get out that way so be it. I'm grateful to have the backing from everyone in our squad."

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He was brave in Lucknow when his 52 off 51 balls against the swinging ball of Dilshan Madushanka helped Australia navigate a tricky chase after a couple of early wickets.

And he showed great intent in the final against the fast bowling masterclass offered up by Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah.

Marsh hammered nine sixes in each of his centuries, but the best of the lot was his straight six off Shami in Ahmedabad, depositing the World Cup's best bowler straight back over his head and 25 rows into the seemingly endless stands.

And while his dismissal – an under-edged swipe that was caught behind – looked ugly, it would have drawn no scorn from the coaching staff. It was short and wide, so Marsh tried to put it away for four.

Marsh launches a shot down the ground in the World Cup final // Getty

And by his exit in the fifth over, Australia's required run rate had dropped from 4.82 to 4.39.

After the presentation was done and confetti had fallen, and with wife Greta by his side, a jubilant Marsh had no hesitation when asked where this personal success ranked.

"Right at the top. Number one!"

A few moments later amid the blur, the World Cup trophy made its way up the longest players' race in world cricket and into the dressing room. Brother Shaun was brought up on FaceTime. It was 1.30am in Perth but he was more than happy to receive the call.

2023 ODI World Cup Finals

First semi-final: India beat New Zealand by 70 runs

Second semi-final: Australia beat South Africa by three wickets

Final: Australia beat India by six wickets