Home » The moment new T20 World Cup skipper Mitch Marsh proved he was ready to lead his country

The moment new T20 World Cup skipper Mitch Marsh proved he was ready to lead his country

An off-Broadway tour of South Africa during a mammoth year for Australian cricket proved the stage where the nation’s T20 captain Mitch Marsh demonstrated to national selectors that he was far more than just a powerful all-rounder.

Just over a month after the Western Australian rebooted his Test career in stunning circumstances during the Ashes, the experienced March was leant on to fill a leadership breach.

The Australians were weary after an ill-fated tour to India and then an earlier than usual arrival in England for the World Test Championships before a bruising Ashes series.

Around the corner after the South Africa tour in late August and early September was the ODI World Cup in India, a lengthy tournament set down for almost two months. Something had to give and Australia rested some top-liners for the tour, including Pat Cummins.

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Marsh, revitalised by his performance in England just five years after he was booed at the MCG during a Test, was energised by the prospect of leading the nation.

He led the Australians to a sweep of the T20s, making a series high 186 runs in the three matches, and also featured in the five match ODI series leading into the World Cup.

As Australia’s chairman of selectors George Bailey said on Wednesday following the announcement of the squad for the T20 World Cup in the West Indies and USA in June, the reigning Allan Border Medallist demonstrated the characteristics of a natural leader in SA.

“(There were a) number of things,” he said.

“I think he’s just got the natural characteristics of someone who is very genuine (and shows) good care around others. Performance is obviously a really important one too from your captain, from your leader. You want them to lead from the front.

“I think Mitch has done that particularly well in T20 cricket over a period of time. Every opportunity he’s had in that leadership role … going back even as far as South Africa last year, (he has) created a wonderful dynamic within the group (and) gives great support to the players around him (and) works well with the coaching staff around him as well.”

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – FEBRUARY 25: Mitch Marsh of Australia poses with the trophy after Australia’s 3-0 series win after game three of the Men’s T20 International series between New Zealand and Australia at Eden Park on February 25, 2024 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

The redemption arc of Marsh is well known. An exceptionally talented teenager, the son of Geoff Marsh and younger brother to Shaun Marsh was tried, tested and discarded in Tests before earning a recall last year.

There was a period where he felt “most of Australia hated him”, a comment one suspects was said only partly in jest given the disgraceful treatment he received at the MCG in 2018.

He excelled in short-form cricket. In Australia’s success in the 2021 T20 Cup in Doha, Marsh set the tone in the final when scoring 77 runs to earn man of the match honours.

Then came the phenomenal century when recalled in place of an injured Cameron Green for the Third Test of the Ashes. That cemented Marsh as a feature in all three formats.

Since the South Africa tour, he has led Australia to a series win at home over the West Indies and then a sweep of New Zealand during a trip across the Tasman in February.

After receiving the Allan Border Medal in January, Marsh said he had often told his wife Greta that he wanted to get “one more crack” to prove he was among the world’s best.

Mitch Marsh wins Allan Border medal | 07:58

Now he has the chance to lead Australia to an unprecedented feat. No nation has managed to hold all three World Cup trophies at the same time, but the prospect is now very real. And with Marsh in charge, they have a calm, considerate leader.

After the ODI World Cup success, Australian great Mike Hussey touched on the positive traits that selectors have seen from Marsh as he has matured in his 30s.

“I just know he is the type of guy in that team who is absolutely loved. He is a man who brings people together,” Hussey told foxsports.com.au

“He is a bit like that spiritual sort of player, that guy the culture revolves around. He is so happy for everyone else in the team and he’ll do anything for anyone.

“They are the ingredients of a guy that you want right in the middle of that team. You need a character who is going to hold everyone else together.”

Ben Oliver, who is Cricket Australia’s general manager of high performance and teams, said these traits had come to the fore in the last 18 months.

“It has been pleasing to watch Mitch’s rise, particularly since his return to Test cricket last year, to further leadership opportunities,” he said.

“We welcome Mitch as the 12th Australian T20 men’s captain, following a long list of exceptional leaders within the history of Australian cricket.”

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 23: Pat Cummins and Mitch Marsh of Australia during a training session at The Gabba on January 23, 2024 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Australia has opted for an experienced, flexible side for the tournament in the Caribbean and USA, with several to have played roles in attaining the World Test Championship and ODI World Cup earning the faith of selectors.

Marsh needs to turn only right or left for assistance when it comes to his leadership, with Cummins and Matthew Wade among those with captaincy experience.

Currently recovering from a hamstring injury, Marsh said he is looking forward to the challenge ahead.

“It’s been an immense privilege to play for my country and now an even greater honour to lead the squad to a World Cup,” he said.

“I am extremely grateful to have such a good group of people in our players and staff. We have had some strong success in recent times and I am hopeful that will continue in what looks like a wide-open tournament.

“We take a very experienced group to the West Indies (and) I very much look forward to the challenge and working alongside Andrew (McDonald), the coaches, players and staff.”

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