When David Warner failed to recover in time for the start of the three-match ODI series against India, the Australian management had to think on their feet, having carried no back-up openers.
Josh Inglis — who opens for Western Australia — and Alex Carey — who’s opened in the past in ODIs — were options but the think tank decided to open with Mitch Marsh, who’d never previously batted up top in any form of international cricket.
As it turned out, the decision proved to be a masterstroke as Marsh ripped into the Indian bowlers across the entire series, making fullest use of the field restrictions. He eventually finished the series with 194 runs at a strike rate of 131.08 and such was his impact that he ended up pocketing the Player of the Series award.
So good was Marsh’s showing in the first two ODIs that the Aussies decided to open with him in the third even when Warner returned, instead opting to demote the southpaw to No.4.
It is easy to infer from the above that the Kangaroos are looking to open with Marsh come the World Cup but the all-rounder quashed such suggestions and asserted that, sooner or later, he expects Warner to take his place.
"I certainly enjoyed the opportunity to open the batting but as a group we spoke before the first game that this is really the start of our campaign for the World Cup," Marsh said at the press conference on Wednesday.
"Certain guys bat in different positions at times and it is really important that we have a squad mentality so with Davey out, it was my opportunity. He's been an incredible player for Australia for a long time and one of the best ODI openers ever so I am sure he'll slot back in at some stage but I think it is really important that we're all really flexible and it was nice to perform for the team."
Marsh though, wasn’t the only Western Australian who shone in the decider as his good mate Ashton Agar, playing his first game of the tour, spun a web around the Indian batters and bowled a game-turning over that put India on the back-foot.
It is one thing slotting into the side and immediately performing, but Agar had gone through way more — he was picked in the Test squad initially and was sent back home midway through the series after the management felt his red-ball game was not where they hoped for it to be.
Agar, though, has always been a world-class white-ball bowler and he showed his class in Chennai.
Marsh was full of praise for Agar, who he described as ‘one of the most resilient characters I know,’
"Certainly it has been an indifferent sort of six weeks for him but Ash [Agar] is one of my closest mates. He's one of the most resilient characters I know," Marsh said.
"That's why he's able to come and perform whenever he plays for Australia. He's been the second spinner to Adam Zampa for a long period of time, but one of his strengths is his ability to be present when he's playing and competing.
“I am really proud of the way he's handled himself for the last six weeks and it is a testament to the group that we have guys like him that just want to play for Australia and he was fantastic tonight."
On paper, Marsh is a designated all-rounder but an injury stopped him from bowling in this series. While the 31-year-old revealed that operating as a specialist batter helped him stay fresh, he hoped to return to full bowling fitness soon to give more options to the side.
"It was fantastic. It was certainly a lot easier on the body. I was a lot fresher when I was batting,” Marsh said of not being able to bowl.
"But I just love bowling and I love the fact that we have all rounders in the squad. It gives our captain a lot of options when we're out there. Poor old Stoiny had to bowl 10 overs today and I felt bad for him.
“We spoke about it briefly before, that we haven't done that in a long time. As much as I love bowling, it is also about being there for my mates and making sure I give the skipper as many options as I can. So hopefully the bowling's not too far away.”