Australian cricket legend Rod Marsh dies after heart attack at 74

Australian cricket great Rod Marsh has died, aged 74, in an Adelaide hospital, where he had been admitted last week after suffering a heart attack in Queensland.

A combative wicketkeeper-batter, Marsh played 96 Test matches for Australia between 1970 and 1984 and 92 ODIs. On retirement, he held Test cricket’s then world record for most wicketkeeping dismissals, 355. It included the iconic “c Marsh b Lillee” entry in a scorebook what remains a record 95 times in Test cricket, during a iconic pairing with fast bowler Dennis Lillee.

Marsh was also an aggressive left-handed batter who was the first Australian wicketkeeper to score a Test century. He made three Test centuries in his career, which was interrupted for two years by World Series Cricket.

While Marsh’s on-field exploits were legendary, he was also a deep thinker of the game and was renowned around the world as a coach and talent-spotter. Marsh headed Cricket Australia’s academy before filling the same role in England, and was the first head of an ICC world coaching academy in Dubai.

He also served as commentator and became Australia’s chairman of selectors in 2014, a position he held for two years.

Australia’s Test players are expected to wear black arm-bands when the first Test against Pakistan starts later Friday in Rawalpindi, as a mark of respect for Marsh.

“Rod was a colossal figure in Australian cricket who gave close to 50 years of incredible service to Australian cricket, from his debut in the Ashes series of 1970-71, through to his time as National Selector, when many of the current group of Australian men’s players came into close contact with him,” Australia men’s Test captain Pat Cummins said.

“He was brilliant to deal with because he knew the game inside-out, but also had a way of dealing with you to put you at your ease. I, along with countless other people in Australia, grew up hearing the stories of him as a fearless and tough cricketer, but his swashbuckling batting and his brilliance behind the stumps over more than a decade made him one of the all-time greats of our sport, not just in Australia, but globally.
“When I think of Rod I think of a generous and larger-than-life character who always had a life-loving, positive and relaxed outlook, and his passing leaves a massive void in the Australian cricket community.”
Rod Marsh in his younger days
A joint statement by Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) president Shane Watson and chair Greg Dyer said, “In a very real way, Rod’s contribution and more accurately, his wonderful connection, reach through all generations of players before and after his own, all the way to the present group. His loss will be deeply felt by them all. Rod’s legacy to cricket is profound. He loved cricket, and cricket loved him back in spades.”

CA chair Lachlan Henderson said, “This is a tremendously sad day for Australian cricket and for all those who loved and admired Rod Marsh. Rod will be forever remembered for the way he played the game and the pleasure he brought crowds as a member of some great Australian teams. ‘Caught Marsh, bowled Lillee’ has iconic status in our game.

“Rod also made an enormous contribution to the game by identifying, coaching and mentoring many future stars in his various roles as coach and director at cricket academies in Australia and other cricket playing nations.”

ICC chief executive Geoff Allardice also paid tribute, pointing out Marsh’s role in developing the ICC Cricket Academy. “As a young boy in Australia, falling in love with the sport of cricket, Rod was one of my heroes,” Allardice said. “And he also made such a contribution after his playing days as well, with young players in many countries. He had a strong involvement with the ICC, with the establishment of the ICC Cricket Academy in Dubai. He masterminded the design of the facilities there. And young players are enjoying those facilities every day. So his legacy lives on.”

Marsh also became a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1982 and was elected to the Sport Australia Hall Of Fame in 1985 and the Cricket Hall Of Fame in 2005. He leaves his wife Ros and sons Dan, who captained Tasmania to their first Sheffield Shield win, Paul, a former CEO of the ACA, and Jamie.