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Friday, March 4, 2022

the big diving Rodney Marsh is no more !

 He was a fierce fighter ! – terrifying looks and athletic dives – we rejoiced when he was out to Kapil Dev for a mere 3 at Melbourne in Feb 11, 1981 – from 24/3 to 83 a formidable team collapsed ! he toured West Indies, England, New Zealand and even Pakistan but never came to India.  He would ever be remembered by those who watched him for his - goalkeeper dives and sky scraping catches, raucous appeals and grinning celebrations made for pyrotechnic TV. He was perhaps the batter – keeper of yore – in an ODI in 1981,  he famously plundered three sixes, two fours and 26 runs from Lance Cairns’ final over. 

In 1983 Prudential World Cup, West Indies were the clear favourites and New Zealand were considered dark horses ! – England were formidable .. .. Kim Hughes led Australia had  Jeff Thomson, Dennis Lillie, Rodney Hogg, Geoff Lawson and little known Ken MacLeay (who came in as replacement for Greg Chappell and took a six for against India) and .. .. Trevor Chappel, Alan Border, David Hookes, Kepler Wessels, Greame Wood, Yallop .. .. and Rodney Marsh but could not qualify for Semis even.


The fearsome man who all remembered as ‘Caught Marsh bowled Lillee’ - Rodney William Marsh, born shortly after Indian independence is no more ! his nicknames were : Iron Gloves, Bacchus.  The 74-year-old, who played 96 Tests and was later a long-time national selector, had been in an induced coma and passed away at a hospital in Adelaide, reports Australian media. Marsh made his debut in 1970 before retiring in 1984 with what was then a world-record 355 Test dismissals, many off the bowling of legendary paceman Dennis Lillee. 

In his hay days, he set the tone for energy and effort, and upping the ante when required, be it with a dry-yet-devastating word in a batsman’s ear or an encrypted gesture to a fast bowler at the top of his run-up. Although it hurt him deeply to never captain his country, that tactical nous and feel for the game and its players later made him a notable success as an academy coach around the world. 

Ian Chappel paid the rich tribute recently when he said : He covered more territory standing back than any keeper, and while this was a great asset, it could also be a source of frustration. When Tony Greig edged Gary Gilmour's awayswinger in the World Cup semi-final at Headingley in 1975, it was headed to my right. It never reached me.


Picture from twitter :  @PictureSporting 

Guardian reports that - Marsh’s great-grandfather, Dan, had been sent to Australia in 1868 on a manslaughter charge after a late-night scuffle in Derby, UK, resulted in a man being shot. Despite a coroner finding no intent, Dan Marsh (after whom Rod named his son, later a Tasmanian captain) served five years in Fremantle Prison before establishing himself as a pillar of the Geraldton community. Like his ancestor, Rodney Marsh’s destiny was always in his hands. “Mum wanted me to be a pianist,” he would reflect. “But I wanted to be in the game.” Despite an appetite for the local crayfish and Swan Lager, Marsh was made Test keeper in 1970-71. It was a controversial decision. Marsh was a batter first, keeper second. But a shrewd panel helmed by Sir Donald Bradman knew the days of sleight-of-hand and stumpings were waning. The 1970s were to be an era of pace. So began the career of Marsh, the original batter-keeper allrounder and blueprint for Gilchrist, Dhoni, Boucher and Sangakkara. 

In the final Test of that first series, Marsh had caught John Hampshire off the bowling of another young debutante, one Dennis Lillee. It was the first of 95 dismissals “caught Marsh, bowled Lillee” in the 13 years to come. The pair had been mates since 1966 when Marsh was a trainee teacher with the University club and Lillee was a tearaway with rivals Perth.   

After retirement, Marsh enhanced his already glowing reputation with a fruitful stint as the head of the Australian Cricket Academy at Adelaide, overseeing players such as Ricky Ponting, Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee. Taking his talents abroad in 2002, Marsh was teased by his former team-mates for accepting the director's role of the old enemy's new National Academy. A year later one of the toughest men to play for Australia was appointed an England selector, and he has made useful contributions to the country's on-field renaissance. Stepping down from both roles in September 2005, he left having helped England regain the Ashes. 

Good bye Rodney Marsh !  - of his 96 tests only 3 were against India in that 1980-81 series, he played a couple of one dayers against India in 1983 WC which was a disastrous campaign for Team Australia. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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