Tribute to Australian Cricket Legend Rodney Marsh

He was 74 at the time of his demise.

Insight Bureau: One of the great cricketing Aussie, who had a legendary picture in the canvas of cricket, Rodney Marsh breathed his last following a cardiac arrest. He was 74 at the time of his demise.

The legend, who formed a prolonged and prolific wicket-taking partnership with Australian pace bowler Dennis Lillee, died in an Adelaide hospital on Friday just over a week after having a heart attack during a charity event in Queensland state of Australia.

With a grave face, a distinctive mustache, unbuttoned shirt and a baggy green cap, the thunder of his name suffused Australian summers in the 1970s and early 80s.

He played in the first one-day international on Jan 5, 1971 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. He retired from top-level cricket after his 92nd ODI, against the West Indies in February 1984. He was also played in World Series Cricket, which polarized international cricket in the late 1970s before revolutionizing the sport for professional players and fans.

Marsh was made Test keeper in 1970 to 1971. 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 cricket greats like Gilchrist, Dhoni, Boucher and Sangakkara.

Marsh first put on wicketkeeping for Armadale Under-16s, at the age of eight. Even then tough as old boots as he didnt even own boots till the age of 10, he had honed his game in fierce backyard “Tests” against brother Graham (a future golf star) with father Ken urging them on.

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As Test wicketkeeper from 1971 to 1984, Marsh 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, its players later made him a notable success as an academy coach around the world.

After some early fumbles, critics dubbed Marsh “Iron Gloves”. But he showed his steel by blasting 92 not out in his fourth Test, a then-record score for an Australian keeper.

Moreover, by not grumbling about captain Bill Lawry’s declaration so close to a century, Marsh established his “team-first” trademark, a code that earned him undying loyalty from teammates and love from fans. Marsh was also a gatekeeper to baggy green culture and a key-master of its conscience.



Marsh is survived by wife Roslyn and sons Daniel, Paul and Jamie.

He had been at a charity event in Queensland state last week when he collapsed, with son Paul on Monday announcing his father remained in an induced coma.

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