Three months after returning to the bowling crease from a shoulder reconstruction, Australia allrounder Mitchell Marsh has declared he’s bowling as fast as ever.
In Australia’s first full training session at the Wanderers on Monday ahead of the four-Test Qantas of South Africa that kicks off in Durban next month, Marsh bowled 30 balls off his long run at what he feels is his top speed.
“I feel like the ball is coming out as quick as it ever has for me,” Marsh told cricket.com.au.
“I don’t think I’m trying to necessarily bowl fast, it’s more a rhythm thing for me.
“Obviously, it took a fair bit of time to get back. It took me a long time for me to find my rhythm, which happens when you go nine months without bowling.
“Really pleased with the way it’s progressed over the last six weeks and hopefully I’ll be able to contribute with a few wickets this series.”
Just how fast Marsh is bowling is uncertain, but he said with a wry smile he was clocked in the mid-140kph region during the Gillette ODI Series this summer.
Marsh went under the knife last March to repair his damaged right bowling shoulder and spent the next nine months patiently rehabbing his injured wing and tightening his batting defence.
He made his cricket comeback as skipper in Western Australia’s successful JLT One-Day Cup campaign but didn’t bowl until he threw caution to wind and brought himself on ahead of schedule in a JLT Sheffield Shield clash in late November as the first Magellan Ashes Test was being played in Brisbane.
His prolific form with the bat saw him selected for the final three Ashes Tests at No.6 where he scored his maiden Test hundred – a colossal 181 in Perth – and backed it up with a powerful 101 in Sydney.
But with the ball he bowled only 32 overs in five innings operating behind Australia’s high-octane fast bowling attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Jackson Bird.
The 26-year-old’s bowling workloads increased during the five-match Gillette ODI Series against England where he bowled in each match before he travelled to South Africa last week having captured 4-50 from 16 overs for WA in their Shield win over NSW at the WACA Ground earlier this month.
While the pitches in the South Africa-India Test series strongly favoured the bowlers, Marsh’s return to peak form with the ball will undoubtedly comfort his captain Steve Smith should the allrounder need to roll the arm over.
Marsh’s comeback with the ball has seen him benefit not only on the field but off it, with the bustling paceman reinstated into the coveted Fast Bowlers’ Union.
The self-proclaimed ‘glue’ of the FBU, Marsh couldn’t wipe the smile off his face when talking about his recall to the exclusive group.
“It’s a great feeling,” Marsh said.
“I’ve worked extremely hard of the last couple of years to get in there and it’s been a topsy-turvy relationship with a few of the fast bowlers.
“But I’m glad to be there and it just goes to show that if you work hard you get places.”
Qantas tour of South Africa
Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.
Warm-up match v SA Invitational XI, Sahara Park, Benoni, Feb 22-24
First Test Kingsmead, Durban, March 1-5
Second Test St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, March 9-13
Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26
Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3