If the 31-year-old checked again today, he might find a somewhat different reception, after his unbeaten 77 earned Player of the Match honours in Australia’s T20 World Cup victory.
Marsh has scored two Ashes hundreds, including a maiden century in his home town of Perth, but this was surely his finest moment in Australian colours, an innings that will define his career.
Coming to the crease with Australia at 1-15 in reply to New Zealand’s 4-172, the right-hander took 14 runs off the first three balls he faced from fast-bowler Adam Milne, kick-starting the Australian run-chase.
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The first ball disappeared over backward square leg for a massive six, ending up in the back rows of the lower deck of spectators. That was followed by a glide through the vacant slips cordon for four, and when Milne dropped short with the third ball Marsh rocked back and pulled it in front of square for another boundary.
With Australia needing 9.29 runs per over at the time, Marsh’s early onslaught eased the scoreboard pressure, with the chasing side able to keep the required rate at a manageable nine until the middle of the innings.
Marsh’s scintillating start sets up World Cup win
The final swung heavily in Australia’s favour in the 14th over, when Marsh took 16 runs off Ish Sodhi, leaving the target a relatively straightforward 48 from 36 balls.
Marsh’s 77 off 50 balls contained six fours and four sixes, sharing partnerships of 92 with David Warner and 66 with Glenn Maxwell. He reached his 50 off 31 balls, the fastest half century in a T20 World Cup final.
His 627 T20 international runs in 2021 is the most by an Australian in a calendar year, eclipsing the mark set by Aaron Finch in 2018.
Highlighting just how difficult it is to succeed as a genuine all-rounder at the international level, Marsh’s predecessor, Shane Watson, was also much-maligned during his career.
Both Watson and Marsh struggled with injuries during their careers, struggling to balance the demands of fast bowling with a spot in the top six of the batting order.
“This has been one of the best T20 innings that I’ve seen,” Watson said of Marsh.
“This tournament, yes he’s been very good in the past six months for Australia but this innings alone is the making of him.
“The public are one side or the other with Mitch Marsh and the interesting thing is because of his injuries he hasn’t had a consistent run all the time. But people didn’t really understand the true skill Mitch Marsh has got.
“Now they will certainly know – under pressure to be able to perform the way that he has.”
Marsh, who only moved to the number three spot during Australia’s tour of the West Indies in July, said after the match the start to his innings was exactly what he needed.
“I feel like a lot of people say this, but I don’t really have words right now,” he said.
“I’ll be honest with you, there’s not a whole lot of thinking that goes into that. I just wanted to get out there and have a presence. Marcus Stoinis always talks to me about having a presence and getting into the contest, that allows me to play my game.”
The win means Australia now holds both men’s and women’s T20 World Cup trophies.
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