Having learnt his trade on the hard and bouncy WACA pitch, Mitch Marsh has never been a noted player of spin bowling.
- Mitch Marsh topped Australia’s batting averages in the white ball tours of West Indies and Bangladesh
- His improved performance against spin played a part and he hopes to maintain his production in the T20 World Cup
- Marsh opted against playing in this year’s IPL in favour of a stint at home where he got engaged to fiancee Greta Mack
But recent conversations with Australian leg-spinner Adam Zampa have changed his approach and led to success against the turning ball.
“I just asked him where he would bowl to me to try and stop me from scoring,” Marsh said while undergoing quarantine in Dubai in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup.
With regulars like Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell absent, Marsh was promoted to the number three position for the tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh in July and August, and was a revelation.
The WA captain topped Australia’s batting averages in both T20I series and put Zampa’s advice to good use.
“Probably more so around rotation of strike and making sure I’m getting off strike through those middle overs, then going back to make sure I have plenty of boundary options.
“It was awesome to have those conversations with him. I felt like I played spin really well in the West Indies and even in Bangladesh on those tough wickets.”
In the lead-up to the T20 World Cup, the 29-year-old plans on soaking up knowledge from renowned players of spin like Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell.
Known affectionately as the “Big Bison”, Marsh is looking to mix subtlety with brutality.
“I’ve watched guys like Marcus Stoinis who uses the crease unbelievably well, getting back and hitting guys over deep mid-wicket off the back foot for six — I think when you start playing shots like that then you get more balls in your area to look down the ground,” he said.
Facing “world class spinners” like Zampa and Ashton Agar in the nets has him primed to handle whatever the rest of the world can serve up on pitches that are likely to assist the slow bowlers.
“In these conditions we know we’re going to get a lot of spin, it’s all about trying to learn, get better, and have a few more boundary options in the powerplay.
“[I] feel really confident going into this World Cup with my form, and where I am mentally and physically.
“I just feel really well prepared. Ultimately you can’t control what happens on the day, (but) I know that if I go into a game prepared, it holds me in good stead to go out there and just play the game.
“That’s all I’m focusing on at the moment, that’s helped me in recent series, and hopefully it’ll help me going into this World Cup.”
While happy to bat anywhere in the order, the all-rounder says his role has been clearly defined.
“It’ll be a matter of the game situation and who we think is best to go in next.”
Love, not money, a great call for Marsh
Marsh could have been preparing for the T20 World Cup and boosting his bank account by playing in the Indian Premier League, but instead he opted for a life-changing seven weeks at home.
“Had a wonderful time at home, got engaged, a special part of my life for myself and Greta,” he said.
“To have that alongside training and preparing to get ready for this World Cup, absolutely feel fresh and ready to go.”
The younger brother of former Test player Shaun and son of ex-Australian vice-captain Geoff hasn’t given up hope of adding to his 32 Tests during the Ashes series this summer.
“I’d love to play Test cricket again for Australia at some point, I’m not going to have a lot of red ball cricket to put my name up for selection,” he said.
“But like many before me, if you can perform in white ball you’re still in the selectors’ eyes.”
Continuing his golden run of white ball form is Marsh’s immediate focus and if that continues, Australia could claim the one major trophy that’s never appeared in the cabinet.
“We’ve got a wealth of experience in T20 cricket and we certainly take a lot of confidence that we can beat any team on any given day.
“It’s a great feeling and a real positive for us heading into this World Cup.”