Posted by: nestaquin | January 7, 2010

Mitchell Marsh: A Bright Beginning

Every decade Australian cricket produces a teenager that stands head and shoulders above his peers. Some fail to bloom but most kick on and usually end their careers as skippers in the BaggyGreen as Kim Hughes, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting attest.

The latest prodigy, who appears even more promising than his illustrious predecessors is West Australian thoroughbred, Mitchell Marsh.

Having just turned 18 and only after a handful of matches for his state, Shaun’s younger brother has impressed those that matter in Australian cricket and if his form at the Under 19 World Cup and in the latter portion of the domestic season continues then it is very likely that he will earn a place in Australia’s T20 squad for the Caribbean in April. Maybe earlier if circumstances are favourable.

I’ve had the pleasure of watching the lad play in all three formats at Bellerive this last month and his athleticism in the field and his technical ability with the bat was impressive to say the least. In truth and without hyperbole, he is the most adept teenager I’ve ever encountered in Australian cricket.

Tall and strong, he is athletic in the field and the way he stands tall when driving is reminiscent of the younger brother from another Australian cricketing dynasty, Greg Chappell.

Obviously, there is more to a successful international career than technical class and while Mitchell Marsh has oodles of that immeasurable quality, it is his mature demeanour that has shone like a beacon in the matches I’ve seen him play.

While in Hobart, West Australia lost three close encounters but the matches were only tight because Marsh the younger produced mature innings in every match. Each was unique yet perfectly suited for the situation his team was in when he walked to the crease.

In the Shield match he batted at five coming to the wicket a few overs before tea with his team shaky against a rampant Brett Geeves and he maturely saw his side through to stumps while providing great support, both from a batting and mental perspective, to assist 21 year old opener Luke Towers to his debut First-Class hundred.

The unitiated onlooker would have thought that Marsh was a senior player who had been playing for years such was his command and Tasmania soon twigged that the key wicket in the West Australian middle-order was not their skipper Adam Voges but the youngster in only his second First-Class match.

Marsh did much of the same in the 50 over encounter resurrecting his team coming in at 25/2 with an expertly paced innings that saw him out caught in the deep in the nineties in the final over. Scoring half their runs he was the sole reason Western Australia were able to stay in the match long enough for the floodlights to take effect.

In the T20 match on New Years Day he was steering his team to an easy victory with some power hitting and clever placement before being freakishly and accidentally run out from a misfield by Tasmania’s latest cult hero Rana Naved-ul-Hasan. The lower-order collapsed in a heap after his departure and Tasmania were gifted a most fortunate victory.

He can bowl at a clip too as NSW found out the other evening when he cleaned up their tail with some very intelligent death bowling taking four wickets in the space of 14 balls to seal an outstanding and much needed win for for his team.

Mitchell departs today for New Zealand and it wouldn’t surprise if he comes home from the Under 19 World Cup with the Player of the Tournament award. He is an outrageously talented player with an old head on his shoulders and I’ve no doubt whatsoever that once given an opportunity, the boy from Freo will be an integral part of the national side in all three formats for the next decade and beyond.

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Responses

  1. Good stuff Nesta, he does look an absolute beauty from the limited footage l have seen.

    The medium term future actually looks very good with real talent around such as Khawaja oozing class, young Smith and also Hazlewood and Pattinson as promising young quicks to name a few.

    The short or immediate options are less exciting l think. l was looking through some 90s/00s Shield scorecards the other day and the quality of the depth players outside the Test XI through our golden era was phenomenal.

  2. I reckon with the resources at hand the Test team is doing more than a reasonable job.

    We’ve makeshift openers, our best bat is in the worst form of his life, the middle-order is propped up by a lucky champion on his last legs, our ‘keeper, when batting, is frighteningly one-dimensional , we’re relieved when our spearhead quick hits the strip and our spinner struggles to make his State team. Add to that sorry list North and Siddle’s lack of runs and wickets and it is astonishing that they’re undefeated this summer.

    Consider that our best young bowler, Hilfy, and bat, Callum Ferguson, are out long-term and it is difficult to be too critical if you are fair-minded.

    They are struggling, no doubt, but they are finding ways to win and they deserve recognition for their efforts.

    All last year was two steps forward and one step back and I think that sequence will continue for a while yet.

    I think the right balance will be found after next summer but we may have to lose The Ashes again to allow young players like the Marsh brothers, Khawaja, Hazelwood and Tim Paine an opportunity to establish themselves.

    • Yeah l think that is about right. If they hadn’t lost the Ashes all would actually appear even rosier in terms of results at least. They are ‘holding the fort’ at the very least and the challenge of a better team in the Ashes next Summer will be very interesting indeed.

      l guess in some ways l’m just looking forward to that next generation as a group that could build something very special together.

      • Yes, I think they are going to have to put up with some losses and replace retiring players with some real young’uns and allow them to bed in.

        Players like Khawaja can’t be allowed to rot on the vine for too long while they pick 30 year-olds with 3 seasons in them.

        “We’ve makeshift openers, our best bat is in the worst form of his life, the middle-order is propped up by a lucky champion on his last legs, our ‘keeper, when batting, is frighteningly one-dimensional , we’re relieved when our spearhead quick hits the strip and our spinner struggles to make his State team. Add to that sorry list North and Siddle’s lack of runs and wickets and it is astonishing that they’re undefeated this summer.”

        Put like that nesta, it looks even more remarkable that we have had nothing but wins in ODi’s and tests since the Ashes loss.

        It still all feels like smoke and mirrors to me.

        I wish MJ had the ticker of Siddle, one of the pluses is that I think Bolly and Hauritz have.

  3. About Mitchmarsh, I’m trying hard not to get too excited about him coming from WA and all that. I listened to the match the other day and it really was the Marsh bros show.

    Tom Moody apparently thinks Mitch has quality all-rounder written all over him.

    • I give up. I foolishly sat up last night just to watch him bat for a few overs and ended up watching the whole match. My word. That’s our future Baggy Green no 3 if I’ve ever seen him.

      The commentators were getting a bit carried away as well. What presence and ease he has at the crease and he looked so relaxed for such a high pressure game. Technically he looks the goods as well.

      Lovely jubbly.

      • It was a thrilling match and the young Lankans deserve praise for the way they fought back after McDermott and Hazlewood had them reeling at 32/5.

        The final on Saturday should be a beauty too!

        • Their left-arm opening bowler, I can’t recall his name offhand but it begins with a J, was excellent, good control over line for a youngster.

          And they always look well-drilled in the field. They are a cut above the other Asian nations for fielding. They take it very seriously.

          Yes, the final should be excellent.

  4. What we do have is the making of a great T20 team for right now. I’m not sure the selectors quite have guts or foresight or whatever to dump Michael Clarke from the captaincy of the T20 side now that he’s just been appointed it’s captain, but great batsman that he is, that version of the game is not really for him. Michael Hussey and any number of players are really surplus to requirements for the T20 team, but I guess the selectors value experience and continuity and other similar buzzwords. The T20 should be full of young talent like the Marshes, Pattinson, Hazlewood, Warner etc.

    • They don’t value 20/20 so they will leave Clarke in for ‘training purposes.’

      I don’t think guts has anything to do with it, it’s just seen as training for the real stuff. Pathetic.

  5. You’re right that the coatholders still haven’t got their head around T20 but there is change afoot with this season’s Big Bash proving to be a terrific competition that is pulling in crowds to domestic cricket not seen since Richie was a lad.

    There is a spillover factor too. At the beginning of last season Tassie’s 50 over matches were attended by a few hundred but this year there is a solid couple of thousand at every match. The Sheffield Shield attendances are also on the rise. There was 12000 at Bellerive for the last T20 and even the Grade twilight T20 competition is attracting hundreds of inquisitive spectators.

    It is no threat to the more traditional format. In fact the reverse is true. More people are interested in Tasmanian cricket than at anytime in the past and when the team eventually get the chance to play on the world stage in the Champions Trophy I expect the interest in cricket in Tasmania to rival the madness that AFL induces.

    As for Clarke, I think we should be patient and give him a fair go. I’ll reserve judgement until after the next World Championships in May but if we fail miserably again I think sense will prevail and a mostly specialist squad will be created for the format.

    Obviously they’ll need their own cap, Baggy Yellow anyone?

    I’m well aware that potential has never won a thing but in Mitch Marsh Australia has a special player who could play all three formats with aplomb. In future as cricket becomes more specialised I predict that these types will be few and far between.

    • I don’t see the point in being patient with Michael Clarke when there are players like Cam White around. Cam White is vice-captain. It should have been the other way around.

      Does anyone know if the U19’s is going to be broadcast anywhere?

      • Fox Sports has been advertising the u/19 World Cup, but I’m not sure how many/which matches will be shown.

  6. Michael Clarke has been an astonishingly slow batsman in limited-overs cricket for the last couple of years, scoring at 4/over when most others are close to 5 or better.

    I’m not sure what’s happened, as he used to be a fast scorer. A batsman’s strike rate fluctuates much less than his average, so I think it is a genuine change in his approach to batting – perhaps as he has become a more solid Test player he’s been cutting out some risky strokes from his one-day cricket as well.

  7. In his three T20 matches so far as captain Clarke is undefeated and averages 97 at a strike rate of 101.

    In ODIs he’s tossed the coin 15 times for 12 wins averaging about 41 with a strike rate near 64.

    Admittedly, his strike rate isn’t fantastic but the results speak for themselves and it is hardly a record to be deserving of the axe.

    • nesta, he is averaging like that as he takes little to no risks and all the pressure is on the other players. Even when he is the one well set, it is always up to the new player to make the running for our scorecard. This is one of the things that damages him in one day cricket as a middle order batsman. The pressure is on all the others while he plays risk free cricket.

  8. If you’re scoring at one a ball in T20, you’re a waste of space and there are plenty of other guys who could do better. The only reason he should be playing T20 for Australia is if the administrators don’t actually care about it and just want to give him some captaincy practice.

    Four runs an over in ODI’s is not just “not fantastic”, but really slow. Of the major batsmen in world cricket, Clarke is all on his own – even Chanderpaul (the next slowest ‘major’ batsman) is 10 runs per 100 balls faster.

  9. I have seen some footage of him batting now and he does indeed stand tall at the crease like Greg Chappell. It gives an idiosyncratic look to his batting.
    If he has anything like Greg Chappell’s talent, he’ll do very nicely thanks.

  10. Interesting to read of the next generation of Aus players. They should do all they can to get to England and play as much cricket as possible on our (still) varied conditions, both wickets and, especially, atmospherics.

    • I think they’ll be doing all they can to get to India before England, Tooting.

  11. Lou – They won’t all go to India though will they? It’s that level just below international cricketer that really benefits from a spell in England.

    • It depends how players see their careers. How can players resist the money in the IPL and other 20/20 comps? I never would be able to, I am sure.

      • Usually the IPL wants overseas players who are already established. I don’t blame a player for taking the money, but if Mitchell Marsh wants to be as good as he might be, he’d be better leaving the IPL aside for a few years and playing in England in April on a greentop, in July on a shirtfront and August on a dustbowl.

        • The IPL has taken all sorts of players without established credentials. Shaun Marsh got into the Oz side on the back of his first IPL series. Moises Henriques was another pick. Mystery to me but he got a contract on the back of nothing as far as I can see.

          And Dirty Dirk kept Glenn McGrath out of I can’t remember which team despite only having played state cricket in Oz.

  12. With it 32C at 2am in Hobart I reckon I could do with a spell in icy England at the moment!

    • No, you don’t. I never ever thought I would get fed up with snow, I really didn’t think that was possible but this January has done it for me.

  13. They won the U19 Cup, yay! Those two spin bowlers were excellent along with Hazlewood. And aggressive field placings were spot on for the small total so smart captaincy by Mitch. Very impressed with the Aussie boys in the knock-out rounds.

    • Yes – it’s looking a bit grim for the rest of us. Bring back Bryce McGain.


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