Mitch in, Shaun out as Marsh rollercoaster continues
Allrounder rides latest upswing in his career as selector Trevor Hohns says older brother Shaun is 'probably past representing Australia'
1 May 2020, 09:36 AM AEST
Australia's brains trust believe Mitchell Marsh is entering his "peak years" after the 28-year-old was recalled to the national contract list as the only seam-bowling allrounder in the 20-man squad.
The news came on the day the last rites were read to elder brother Shaun Marsh, who was cut from the central list as National Selector Trevor Hohns said he was "probably past representing Australia".
While the ride appears to have stopped for Shaun, who turns 37 in July, this is just the latest peak of a rollercoaster career for Mitchell, who reflected this week how 12 months ago he was at one of his lowest ebbs having been cut from the national contract list after four years and left out of the World Cup plans.
Hohns said he and fellow selectors George Bailey and Justin Langer, the head coach, continued to see "something" in the allrounder that convinced them Marsh was worth another shot.
"We do think there is definitely something there with Mitch," Hohns said.
"He's now at an age where in our view he's coming into his peak years.
"So hopefully now from here on he can realise the potential a lot of people have seen in him over the last five or six years."
Asked if he agreed with Hohns’ assessment, Marsh said: "I'm hoping so. I've been searching that for a few years now.
"Physically and mentally I feel really good.
"Obviously I missed a bit of cricket over the summer, so my winter was going to be very busy and I was looking forward to that.
"(I don't know) when cricket starts up again, but I've got a long time now to work a few things out and hopefully I can play as much cricket for Australia as I possibly can."
A year ago, Marsh sought counsel from his father Geoff, the former Australia coach and opening batsman, over coffee. Five months later, he was playing Test cricket for Australia again, taking a five-wicket haul at The Oval in the final game of The Ashes.
The rollercoaster dipped again a few weeks later when frustrations boiled over in a Sheffield Shield match and he punched a wall at the WACA Ground, breaking a bone in his hand.
It was nine weeks before he could play again, 12 before he could bowl in a game, and Australia's Test team had moved on without him.
He was recalled to Australia's ODI side in February and earned player of the match honours against New Zealand at the SCG before the COVID-19 pandemic halted international cricket.
On Thursday, he received a new national contract and while the cricket shutdown means he’s unsure how much it will be worth, or when he might play again, he’s proud to be rewarded for resilience and perseverance.
"For me, it's reward for 12 months of hard work to get where I've got myself to now," he said.
"Things are a little bit unknown in terms of our pay and when we'll play again, but for me this just the first step in getting back.
"I've worked extremely hard to get back over the last 12 months.
"Coming home from England I was determined to make sure I stayed in the Test team, and my frustration at getting out (in a Shield game) cost me 12 weeks with a broken hand.
"I fought my way back again towards the end of the summer, it was really nice to finish off playing (one-day cricket) for Australia before all this (coronavirus) stuff happened.
"Hopefully when we're back playing cricket I'm still in there."
Marsh made his Test debut against Pakistan in the UAE in October 2014, having first played in both white-ball formats three years earlier, and has played 32 of Australia's 63 Tests since then.
For a fast-medium allrounder, he averages 38.64 with the ball and 25.20 with the bat in Tests, figures he and Australian cricket would no doubt love to reverse.
He’s been a regular target of social media trolls during his nine years in and out of the national side – he’s previous conceded he used to read everything, but only found it "made me feel pretty shit" – but he showed his more candid side in the recently-released documentary The Test.
The Amazon Prime doco shows him playing air drums and a fake DJ set to amuse teammates during a rain delay, and also shows him as the instigator of the team's daily morning stroll for coffee, which came to be a valuable support network for the players to get out of the hotel and unwind during the high-stakes, high-pressure tour.
But he knows his reputation as an ideal team man will matter little if he cannot put results on the board.