16 overs. Mitchell Marsh, had bowled 16 overs on the opening day of the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval before he did something that most Australian cricket fans dread – pull out and go off the field. This time though there were no ‘Ah, here we go, again!’ laments, instead, it was an appreciative ‘But he’s done his job!’
They were right. On a day when Tim Paine made the wrong call after winning the toss, it was the four wickets from Marsh that turned the tables on its head before Jos Buttler bailed the hosts out with a handy fifty.
The last time Mitchell Marsh played a Test, 0/51, 9(36) and 10(21) was his performance before he was dropped for the fourth and final Test against India at home, in Melbourne. A massive victory for India meant they had taken a 2-1 series lead and the hosts took the call to leave out the younger Marsh.
There is a reason why Marsh said what he did after a match-defining spell yesterday. “Yeah, most of Australia hate me. Australians are very passionate, they love their cricket, they want people to do well. There’s no doubt I’ve had a lot of opportunity at Test level and I haven’t quite nailed it, but hopefully they can respect me for the fact I keep coming back and I love playing for Australia, I love the baggy green cap and I’ll keep trying and hopefully I’ll win them over one day.”
He’s no stranger to making comebacks to the Test side. Back during the 2017-18 Ashes, he came back for the Perth Test and scored a massive 181, his maiden Test ton and followed it with another in Sydney.
Marsh couldn’t make most of his 96 in the first Test in Durban on the ill-fated tour of South Africa last year, though. Just 25 runs in the last four innings of the series meant he was shown the door.
The bans to Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft post the ball-tampering scandal meant Marsh was back in the side for the UAE tour, this time as the vice-captain of the side. Runs kept eluding him, and he scored just 30 in four innings batting in the top four. He was recalled to the side for the Test as mentioned earlier against India at home.
Marsh lost his central contract for the 2019-20 season yet was picked for the A tour to England, just ahead of the World Cup and the Ashes.
He was in the radar for replacing Marcus Stoinis who got injured during the World Cup, but it never happened. He played well just before the start of the Ashes and took timely wickets to be part of the 17-man squad.
Marsh had to wait for four Tests to get his chance, at a venue where he had picked up 5 for 86 in earlier. He came in with plenty to prove, and the situation could not be any worse.
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) September 12, 2019
Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins had bowled their bodies off and Peter Siddle, who came in for Mitchell Starc, couldn’t stop leaking runs. This is when Marsh struck gold in just his fourth over. Ben Stokes tried to pull one without quite getting into position for it and skied it for Lyon to catch it at point. Marsh could not believe his luck, but at times, you make your luck. He certainly did that by bowling well and getting the ball to swing more than anyone else.
He returned to trap Bairstow lbw, had Sam Curran caught in the slips before getting rid of Chris Woakes LBW to pile more agony on England.
He opened the bowling on Day 2 with Cummins, with the second new ball and it showed how well he had bowled. Leach dragged one onto his stumps to give Marsh his maiden five-wicket haul in the longest format of the game.
Australia would have loved for him to contribute with the bat too, but he was out trying to pull one off the best bowler on the day, Jofra Archer. He picked out the fielder in the deep and could only put his head down and walk back to the hut.
He was included into the XI to help the side with the ball, at the end of a long tour and despite the blip with the bat, one can say, Marsh did his job to resurrect his career, yet again.