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Mitchell Marsh seizes comeback with inch-perfect power hitting

Last updated on 07 Jul 2023 | 01:33 AM
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Mitchell Marsh seizes comeback with inch-perfect power hitting

For once England were making the conditions count, and then Mitchell Marsh came out of syllabus

Do you remember Mitchell Marsh, the Test cricketer?

With the amount of cricket going on nowadays - multiple games a day, a new T20 league every month, an ICC event every year - it sometimes becomes tough to remember things from the previous day, let alone four years ago. 

Yes, Marsh last played Test cricket in 2019. Since then, a lot of water has flown under the bridge that is his red-ball career. 

To start with, there is a series of injuries that has troubled the Perth-born throughout his career. As a result, Marsh featured in only one first-class game in the last two years. In the meantime, he achieved immense success in white-ball cricket, which, in the case of many cricketers, especially injury-prone, has led to premature retirements from the multi-day format of the game. 

Then there is Cameron Green who has cemented his spot in the Australian side in the seam-bowling all-rounder’s role. 

There are many reasons for you to think that Marsh has slipped out of Australia’s Test plans. He was the most surprising name in Australia’s squad for the World Test Championship final and the first two Ashes Tests. He was only announced as a reserve player for the final against India. And before the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston, Marsh jokingly said that he was the 16th man in the squad.  

None of it, however, means that Marsh had given up on his red-ball ambitions. "I wanted to wear it one more time and put it on again,” he said after a magnificent 118. Marsh’s knock not only responded to the crisis he walked in but also gave England a taste of their own medicine, given the breezy nature of his innings, almost a blitzkrieg. 

Marsh walked in to bat at probably the worst time for a player to make a comeback. Australia were 85/4, having lost their best batter of the series Usman Khawaja and their talisman Steve Smith. Only two overs were left before lunch. Stuart Broad had his tail up and he also had to negate an over of Mark Wood at the other end, who was bowling rockets. Marsh had so much more to lose than to gain. Amidst all the challenges, he stayed true to playing his natural game.  

“Today was as natural as it gets for me. I know when I move well enough and make good decisions mentally that I can keep good balls out. Outside of that, I'm going play my shots and I got rewarded for that," Marsh said. 


Marsh broke down batting into its most effective and simplistic form and his innings was a testament to that. He defended 43.2% of the 118 deliveries he faced and left alone another 16.9%. That is 60% of the good deliveries he wanted to keep out. 

You can assess how effective his strokeplay was that an attacking shot percentage of 33.1% proved enough to maintain a strike-rate of 100. The home-like conditions at Headingley also worked in Marsh’s favor. 

Unlike Lord's and Edgbaston, Headingley has pace and bounce on offer. It lends the seamers an intimidating look but strokeplay is also easier, much like Perth, where Marsh has grown up playing fast bowling. 

He mustered 56 runs off the 25 various drives he played, including 11 fours. In nine pull strokes, he smashed two fours and three sixes. He pulled a 91mph rocket from Wood for a six with two men in the deep. Marsh had towering strike-rates against anything full or marginally short. It was inch-perfect power hitting. 

Marsh scored his first fifty runs in 59 deliveries and the next fifty in 43 deliveries. When he reached his hundred, he had contributed 100 off 102 balls in a partnership of 133 runs alongside Travis Head. 

The way Marsh dominated Head in the partnership added another layer of disbelief to this knock. Head is an enforcer himself who has scored his last 1500 Test runs at a strike-rate of 81.

Marsh ruled the entirety of the second session, lifting Australia from 85/4 to 240/5. On either side of his dismissal, Australia scored 108/9. Joe Root dropped him in the slip cordon when he was on 12 and Marsh made England pay alright. 

It is too soon to say what impact the Marsh blitz will have on the result of the Test match but for now, it keeps a desperate English side at bay. Making sure Australia don’t miss Green with the ball as well, Marsh also dismissed Zak Crawley in the final half an hour of play. 

A subplot has completed a full circle in Marsh’s career with this hundred. Cameron Green began his career as a seam-bowling all-rounder when Marsh was unavailable as a long-format option. Now the 31-year old has earned an elusive comeback replacing Green, even if only briefly. 

Marsh last played Test cricket at Kennington Oval in 2019. He scored only 41 runs in the match but pouched a five-for on the opening day. That day, he said: “Yeah, most of Australia hate me. There's no doubt I've had opportunities and I haven't quite nailed it, but hopefully, they can respect me for the fact I keep coming back. I love the baggy green cap and hopefully, I'll win them over one day."

Since then, Marsh has delivered a player-of-the-match award winning performance in a T20 World Cup final and now scored a timely hundred in Australia’s will to seal their first Ashes series win in England since 2001. Surely, he has won them over now. 

Strangely enough, there is an Instagram page named dailymitchmarsh that vowed to post only one picture of Mitchell Marsh every day until he scores an international hundred. After 1652 days, that account has accomplished its cause. 

Do you remember Mitchell Marsh, the Test cricketer? 

He has left a lasting impression on your mind now.

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