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Mitchell Marsh seeks to draw lessons from Ashes chaos

August 14th, 2015 | by admin
Mitchell Marsh seeks to draw lessons from Ashes chaos

On the Wantage Road outfield, the selection chairman Rod Marsh and the coach Darren Lehmann exchanged frank words with Australia’s 2015 Ashes tourists. For around 15 minutes the two old salts spoke passionately, in the sort of team discussion that invariably follows the kinds of defeats endured at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge. The only response could be seen coming from Mitchell Johnson, now very much the senior man in the Test XI.

The retiring captain Michael Clarke is in London, Ryan Harris and Brad Haddin have gone home. They leave a gulf in experience and knowledge, but also confidence arising from their long-time ability to get the job done for Australia.

Marsh and Lehmann want Clarke to be suitably farewelled from international cricket at the Kia Oval, but they also want this team to take something from the series. They want this latest Ashes defeat in England to be the last for some time.

Of those present, none of Johnson, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson, Peter Siddle, Adam Voges, Fawad Ahmed or Shaun Marsh can reasonably expect to take part in another Ashes series on these shores. Lehmann and Marsh are unlikely to be around either. But among the more intent listeners was the young allrounder Mitchell Marsh, who was left out of the team for Trent Bridge but is determined to draw triumph out of the chaos of this trip.

“As an Australian team you go out to win every Test match, and even though the series is over we’ve got a lot to play for in this match as everyone knows,” Marsh said. “To send our skipper out on a winning note is a big emphasis for us, so we’ll be doing everything we can. We’ve been working extremely hard off the field to try and get it right on the field and it just hasn’t happened for us. So we’ll be doing everything we can.”

Marsh, who can expect to be recalled at the Oval, has always been a confident character, backing his ability against anyone. But his exposure to the harshest light of Ashes pressure gave him pause to consider his readiness for it, and by his own admission both his dismissals at Edgbaston were illustrative of a young player not quite knowing how to respond to a seaming pitch, a baying crowd and a tense match scenario.

Asked whether the pressure of the occasion had weighed down on his batting, Marsh offered the following. “Missing straight ones is not what you want to do, and chasing one a foot outside off third ball is not what you want to do,” he said.” Read into that what you want.

“It certainly was an eye-opener. When I first got picked in the Test team Justin Langer said from Australian first-class cricket the step up is not that much bigger. It’s more just the outside pressure and the pressure of being in a Test match. Edgbaston was certainly the first time I really felt the pressure of a whole Test match … but I enjoyed it and I loved it, not that I was out there for too long.

“That’s what you play for, that’s what you work hard for, to try and combat those times. It was certainly a great experience and hopefully I’ll be better for that in big moments in future.”

The future stretches out ahead of Marsh, with the calendar offering non-stop international cricket for those good enough to handle those aforementioned pressures. But there is also a question of priorities – the fame and cash presented by the IPL, or the more modest surrounds of English County competition and a rounded education in how to bat and bowl here. Marsh is eager to take the latter path. Six Tests over the past 12 months will afford him the visa qualification to do so.

“That’s something I’ve wanted to do over the past few years,” he said. “Now that I do qualify over the next few years hopefully it gives me an opportunity to come over here and play as much cricket as I can to prepare for coming years. Hopefully over the next few years I’ll be playing for Australia and won’t get too much time, but when the time does come hopefully I’ll be able to get over here.

“To be able to learn my trade in these conditions would be awesome. Everyone that comes over here says that it’s awesome for your cricket. Hopefully that’s the case for me. I’ve probably put IPL on the back stall for the past few years and I’ve seen the gains in my cricket from that. It will be a case of judging it when it comes and seeing what happens in the future.”

Rod Marsh and Darren Lehmann certainly had the future on their minds as they addressed the team at Wantage Road. The content of the exchange will remain between players and selectors for now. Only the years will measure whether this moment will be of great significance for Mitchell Marsh and other young players, or simply a show of passion too late to change the course of the summer of 2015.


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