Cricket

Cricket-Rod Marsh, top wicketkeeper in Australia, dies aged 74

Cricket-Rod Marsh, top wicketkeeper in Australia, dies aged 74

Rod Marsh of Australia, pictured during a net session at Old Trafford, England on July 30, 2013. Mandatory Credit: Action Images/ Jason Cairnduff

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SYDNEY, March 4 (Reuters) – Rod Marsh, an iconic presence behind the stumps for Australia during the Test matches of the 1970s and early 1980s and inextricably linked to that of fast bowler Dennis Lillee, died on Friday at the age of 74, his family mentioned.

Marsh has remained a hugely popular figure in the cricketing community and he was on his way to a charity event in Queensland eight days ago when he suffered a massive heart attack which ultimately proved fatal.

‘Caught Marsh, bowled Lillee’ appeared 95 times on Test scoreboards as the mustachioed combination from Western Australia wreaked havoc on opposing batting orders in cricket’s golden age Down Under.

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Teak-resistant and fiercely competitive, Marsh’s burly physique belied great athleticism and his sure-handedness helped him to a tally of 355 dismissals when he retired in 1984, then a Test record.

Although that still puts him number four on the all-time list of layoffs behind stumps and earned him a place in the ICC Hall of Fame, Marsh was more than a one-dimensional glovemaker.

He was the first wicketkeeper to score a century for Australia when he made 118 against Pakistan in 1972, and added two hundred more from 3,633 Tests with an average of 26.51 from his 96 Tests.

His career also encompassed the birth of one day cricket. He scored 1,225 runs in 92 short format games for his country despite playing for a few years in rebel World Series Cricket.

Greg Chappell, Australia captain for the latter part of Marsh’s career, said his contribution to the team went beyond catches, sumpings and runs.

“Rod was the spiritual leader of the band,” he told Nine Media. “He gave the team his all. He loved a win more than any of us, hated a loss more than any of us…

“And if you needed someone to tell you something, it was usually the guy who told you. You were never in any doubt what he meant, and often he was right.”

This was never more the case than when Chappell infamously asked his brother Trevor to play armpits at a New Zealand tailor during a one-day international match in 1981.

The siblings ignored Marsh’s pleas to drop the plan and their careers will be forever marred by the incident.

‘IRON GLOVES’

Born and raised alongside his professional golfer brother Graham in the suburbs of Perth, Marsh was included in the Australia squad for the 1970-71 Ashes series.

A few early fumbles contributed to the inauspicious start to his Testing career and the ruthless Australian media branded him ‘Iron Gloves’.

The nickname was quickly forgotten, especially once Lillee joined him in the team towards the end of this series. He could have scored his first century on his fourth test if a statement hadn’t left him stuck on 92 not out.

After hanging up the gloves, Marsh spent 11 years training young Australian talent at the National Cricket Academy in Adelaide before taking on similar roles for England and the ICC Academy in Dubai.

Marsh’s final role in the game was as chairman of Australia’s selection committee from 2014 to 2016.

He is survived by his wife Roslyn and his children Paul, Dan and Jamie.

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Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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