From boos to runs: Mitch Marsh’s Test redemption has been a remarkable story, but why have so many missed telling it?


As the first test of the summer ended it was a shame that the mainstream media pack missed the trick, or at least missed the story.

These guys who are paid to look for the wonderful narratives that we so enjoy in sports, in my opinion, were frustratingly off the mark.

The misguided overanalysis of the attendance of the Test along with the flat-out boring obsession that the media have with David Warner saw the real story slip through their fingers.

One of the wonderful things about sport is that it tells us so many tales of triumph over adversity. So many times, it shows us the importance of not giving up and self-sacrifice that it is hard to not accept how good it is for us.

Australian cricket has long been a wonderful source of such stories too. Think Shane Warne at the start or think of Damien Martyn coming back.

For those not as old as me who cannot remember the first two, think Glenn Maxwell at the World Cup or Marnus Labuschagne rising from obscurity. Or if you really want to hit the nail on the head, think Mitchell Marsh.

For reasons that I will never quite understand, Marsh has long been synonymous with the great divide as wide as the Nullarbor Plain (literally) that has always presented to Australian cricket. Long lauded in the West, Marsh once stepped out his run-on Boxing Day to a vexing chorus of boos.

Mitch Marsh is looking confident on his home deck! #AUSvPAK

— (@cricketcomau) December 15, 2023

Imagine that! Being booed on the biggest day of the cricket calendar while you handed your baggy green to the umpire. He then would go on to suggest in a press conference that he knew he was the most hated many in Australian cricket.

People can be so mean.

Not long after that sobering event injury and poor form would cast Marsh away from the test side. To the joy of some, he would struggle for fitness and form and start what seemed an inevitable track towards becoming one of the white ball specialists that are such a feature of the cricketing landscape these days.

Making truckloads of money bowling just the four overs and seeing how many times they can deposit the ball out of the postage-stamp-sized grounds of the sub-continent, Caribbean and now the US.

Although he never admitted it to the press, this seemed where the big West Australian was headed.

Once he got fit, he made a good fist of it too. Speaking of a novel approach to his cricket which was one of a clear mind and a willingness to play on feel rather than analysis the big boy got going.

Batting at first drop or opening in the white ball games we were delivered a behemoth of a batter who seemingly had not a fear in the world. His innings in the final of the most unlikely of T20 World Cup wins coupled with the most brutal of ODI World Cups were the most beautiful cricketing stories of their own.

The thing was though he kept getting picked on red ball tours.

Mitchell Marsh celebrates with Travis Head after reaching his century. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

With the world rightly salivating at the prospect of what Cam Green could become, George Bailey and his fellow selectors seemed to like having Mitchell in their squads as a backup to the wunderkind.

So, he kept getting named in squads. A trip to Pakistan saw him enjoy the trip and play little cricket and the recent tour through England looked like being the same for the Bison. Not that he complained, reports are always that Marsh is always the consummate teamman.

Then something happened, which is where the story should begin. In a completely understandable development for a young athlete who stands two metres tall, Green got hurt.

He was left out of the third test and Marsh was the natural replacement. Four or five years after that terrible day at The ‘G’. Still only in his early thirties.

A big cheer goes up around the ground as Mitch Marsh is introduced into the attack for the first time #AUSvPAK

— 7Cricket (@7Cricket) December 15, 2023

After a significant injury and navigating a way back to form, Marsh would again play test cricket. What a journey it had been.

The journey was of course just the start as the 100 that he plastered on his return was a thing of beauty.

A story in itself, this innings says Marsh as a man who had overcome the self-doubt and the analysis paralysis that can so often cripple a struggling athlete, let alone a cricketer.

He is batting with freedom and aplomb that saw the ball dispersed to all parts. A pull shot over mid-on that went like a tracer bullet for six off one of the quickest in the world was the punctuation that this story needed.

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Then he came back to Australia and peeled off two fifties of such power and positivity on a wicket the East Coast boffins were keen to label dangerous and still his story is somewhat muted.

Still, many seemed to want to mainly talk about Warner, or the crowds or the ‘dangerous’ wicket.

They definitely missed a good one here. They missed really getting into the beautiful story that is the resurrection of Mitchell Marsh.

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