Australian Cricket Awards
Evergreen Marsh takes out men's domestic award
Western Australian veteran's outstanding year highlighted by a match-winning ton in the Marsh One-Day Cup final
10 February 2020, 08:37 PM AEST
In Brisbane's fading afternoon light on the final Tuesday of last November, the sure blade of Shaun Marsh delivered Western Australia their record 14th one-day domestic trophy.
On a tricky wicket against a quality Queensland attack, Marsh piloted the run chase from the second over, and was still there at the end of the 48th when the final of the aptly named Marsh One-Day Cup was won.
He was unbeaten on 101, and the clear difference between the sides.
Almost 19 years after he first turned out for his beloved home state as a teenage prodigy, it was perhaps the crowning performance of his domestic career.
Now here he stands, an evergreen 36-year-old and Australia's men's domestic cricketer of the year.
Marsh is quiet and unassuming, perhaps increasingly so as the years have worn on and certainly in contrast to his garrulous younger brother. He appears to have little interest in the spotlight and eschews any means by which it might be shifted in his direction.
But when you play Australia's national sport as well as he does, the headlines will invariably come.
On numerous occasions over the years the words written about Marsh have been critical and even harsh; he was not the only batsman to struggle to fill the void left by the end of a golden era but at times he probably felt as though he was.
The left-hander's most recent international came almost eight months ago now while it is more than a year since he played a Test. Australia appear to have moved in a different direction but when Marsh was dropped, there is little doubt he was offered the old faithful: go back to domestic cricket and bang the door down with runs.
Perhaps he took the advice to heart. Then again, maybe he has freed himself from the shackles of such pressures, and simply batted with a less scrambled mind.
In the 12-month period following his last Test appearance (the SCG match of January 2019), Marsh has piled on 1,322 Australian domestic runs at 52.88 across the three formats – the third-most in the country behind Daniel Hughes (1434 at 38.76) and Callum Ferguson (1372 at 44.26).
He is presently the leading run-scorer in the Sheffield Shield with 600 at 66.66, and he was the fifth-highest run-scorer in both the Marsh One-Day Cup and the KFC Big Bash League, the latter with his new side, Melbourne Renegades.
The Renegades deal was announced last March and seemed to put at least a few noses out of joint at the WACA, where Marsh has played since he was a teenager. In a brief statement at the time, Marsh described it as "a new challenge", and he duly delivered for the Melbourne side this summer, leading their run-makers even as they collected the wooden spoon.
In the back section of the Shield, WA will be hoping Marsh's ongoing absence from national selection will be their gain.
Western Australia's last triumph in the competition pre-dates even Marsh, and with multiple one-day and T20 titles with WA and the Scorchers respectively, it is the one item missing from his domestic CV.
They sit second on the ladder presently and there is little doubt they will be hoping Marsh's class can be influential for them in the run to the final.
Last October, a little over a month before his heroics in the One-Day final, he captained the side in the absence of his brother Mitch and made a match-winning 214 that his coach and former teammate Adam Voges labelled "the best performance I've seen from him".
"He's probably worrying less about what's happening at international level now," Voges added. "He's just really focused and committed to playing good cricket for WA."
It's probably the case. Marsh himself even admitted last May his chances of playing Test cricket again were "highly unlikely".
But deep down he might retain a shred of hope. National coach Justin Langer is an unashamed admirer of his former state teammate. Maybe new national selector George Bailey – just 10 months his senior – sees a place for him. These things do happen.
More realistically though, Marsh continues doing what he is doing now. The cover drives and clutch innings will continue, so to the chasing of silverware.
He will be 37 in July. He is the men's domestic cricketer of the year, almost two decades after he first turned out for WA. It has already been a hell of a ride. Long may it go on.