ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
‘Big, strong’ Marsh returns after season from hell
Allrounder could yet be a key figure in Australia’s World Cup campaign after a nightmare 2018-19 campaign
Louis Cameron in Taunton
12 June 2019, 04:15 PM AEST
After a nightmare summer in which he went from Test vice-captain to being out of the team in all three formats, the return of Mitchell Marsh to the Australian team could be the start of a significant shift in fortune.
Marsh has been rushed from Brisbane to the United Kingdom after Marcus Stoinis suffered a side strain in Australia's defeat to India on the weekend, ruling him out of at least Wednesday's match against Pakistan.
Australia are yet to decide whether to make the irreversible decision of replacing Stoinis in their 15-man World Cup squad, but should the call be made, Marsh may be as ready as he's ever been for another shot at the top flight.
The 27-year-old has recently recorded personal-best skinfold tests, a calculation of body-fat percentage that Australia's elite cricketers have measured every few weeks, while he also recently finished a two-kilometre time trial in under seven minutes.
Neither of which will necessarily help him make him make runs or take wickets, but it won't have gone unnoticed by Justin Langer, who has made physical fitness a key priority since taking over as head coach last year.
"He's looking big, he's looking strong … he's lifting the house down in the gym," Peter Handscomb told cricket.com.au in Brisbane, where he's been training with Marsh as part of the Australia A squad.
Marsh's state coach, Adam Voges, said the allrounder's peak physical condition had been fueled by the disappointments of the past year, and was indicative of a refreshed mindset.
"I can just see some determination in Mitch at the moment," Voges told cricket.com.au.
"He's obviously really disappointed. It was an incredibly tough 12 months for him to go from being named vice-captain to being left out of all forms and losing his Cricket Australia contract.
"He was gutted at the time and he's really used that as motivation to get in the best possible shape that he can.
"He's hired his own personal trainer, he's worked a little bit down at the West Coast Eagles, he's been working hard on his batting with Scott Meuleman, his batting coach.
"I just see a really determined Mitch Marsh at the moment."
Marsh was named vice-captain of the one-day leg of the 'A' side's upcoming tour of England, which kicks off with a game against Northamptonshire next week.
His involvement in that series now seemingly rests on how badly Stoinis' side injury is deemed to be.
And if Marsh, who hasn’t played an ODI in nearly 18 months, does get added to Australia's World Cup squad, he's unlikely to be just a back-up option.
The loss of Stoinis throws out the balance of Australia's side. While Nathan Coulter-Nile could fill the void against Pakistan on Wednesday if the defending champions elect to play five bowlers, that's unlikely to be a long-term strategy.
Australia had three seam-bowling allrounders in their 2015 World Cup-winning squad; Marsh, Shane Watson and James Faulkner.
Against Pakistan, they'll have none.
Marsh's overwhelming pride at being named one of two deputies to Test skipper Tim Paine ahead of a tour against Pakistan last year was soon overshadowed by his struggles with the bat. He failed to pass 13 in the two-Test series as Mohammad Abbas caused him no end of trouble by trapping him lbw three times in four innings.
He was swiftly dumped from the side for the opening Test of the home summer against India, and then axed again after earning a recall for the Boxing Day Test. Included in Australia's squad for the ensuing one-day series, he was then struck down by illness and played no part in the series. He was then dropped for the subsequent limited-overs tour of India.
A rotten few months were capped by a gruesome injury in February. Hit in the box while batting at training in Perth, Marsh sustained what doctors initially feared was a ruptured testicle. Surgery then revealed he'd 'only' suffered severe bleeding.
He did, however, finish his season on a high when he struck a century in Western Australia's final JLT Sheffield Shield match of the season to seal a 136-win over reigning champions Queensland.
While Stoinis had by then firmly established himself as the one-day team's first-choice allrounder, Ricky Ponting in March suggested Marsh could still play a role at the World Cup.
"There is that danger man, x-factor about someone like Mitchell Marsh with the way that he can strike the cricket ball and his bowling is a little bit underrated as well," Ponting told cricket.com.au before the squad had been picked.
"They're the guys that can win you a World Cup.
"He's shown it on the international stage in the past that, when he's playing at his absolute best, he's a very, very good international player."
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
Sync Australia's World Cup schedule to your calendar HERE
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE