Rebuilt Mitch Marsh dismantles England

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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128 Have your say

    Mitch Marsh yesterday reaped the benefit of some subtle and not-so-subtle changes to his batting technique as he struck a commanding century to put Australia in a dominant position in the third Ashes Test.

    In smashing 181 not out in an Australian total of 4-549, Marsh returned to Test cricket with a technique which, as strange as it may sound, was both tighter and looser.

    Looser in that the 26-year-old all-rounder was less rigid in his movements. During his previous stints in Test cricket, in which he averaged 21 with the bat from 21 Tests, Marsh had a robotic batting style.

    Often he over-committed on the front foot, planting it straight down the pitch before he could reasonably judge whether or not the delivery demanded he play forward or back.

    This made him a prime LBW candidate, similar to Shane Watson, who had a similar premeditated plonk of the front foot.

    Marsh’s front leg tended to be stiff and straight, meaning that even when the ball was full and there to be driven, he was playing this stroke from an overly upright stance. The best drivers bend at the knee to get their head down closer to the ball, a movement which also helps to play the delivery later.

    This is just what Marsh did brilliantly well yesterday as he unfurled an array of sumptuous drives. His striking down the ground was particularly majestic, with Marsh showing great trust in his timing, rather than trying to bludgeon the ball, as he regularly did earlier in his Test career.

    At the same time that he’s became looser in his movements, Marsh has tightened his defence. As well as being susceptible to LBWs previously, Marsh also had a tendency to feed the slips cordon, pushing with hard hands at deliveries outside off stump.

    Mitch Marsh

    (Photo by Philip Brown/Getty Images)

    This was, to an extent, a by-product of his stiff movement – he would plant his foot down the line of the stumps and then reach out at deliveries. The downside of this approach was two-fold – Marsh’s bat was well outside his eyeline, exactly what batsmen seek to avoid in defence, and in the process a yawning gap opened up between his blade and his front pad.

    Yesterday that gap was closed thanks to Marsh’s later and more exaggerated feet movement. He would wait an extra fraction of a second before either taking a big stride towards the pitch of the ball, or shuffling well back and across to dead bat it right under his nose.

    Within his first half hour at the crease, it was clear Marsh now had far greater trust in his defence. From such trust flows the confidence to attack. The moment the England bowlers overpitched, Marsh punished them, maintaining a very stable posture at the crease as he stroked through the line with a still head.

    When they dropped short he was right back in his crease to cut or pull, shots which he seemed to have a huge amount of time to play.

    Aside from his technical improvements, the most notable aspect of Marsh’s sublime knock was his patience and maturity. Once he passed 100, Marsh had the England attack cowed on a belter of a pitch. At this stage he must have been tempted to tee off and start clearing the boundary as he does so well in the shorter formats.

    But Australia still had a lot of work left to do to put themselves into a winning position, and Marsh clearly recognised this. Even while the TV commentators were encouraging him to cut loose, Marsh remained disciplined, waiting for wayward deliveries, rather than trying to manufacture boundaries.

    He was scoring so quickly without risk that there was no need for him to chance his arm.

    Steve Smith

    (Photo by Philip Brown/Getty Images)

    The manner in which Smith desperately protected his wicket, even once he reached 200, underlined Australia’s desire to bat only once. Clearly they want to build a lead well in excess of 200 before sending England back in and aiming for what would be the most demoralising of innings victories.

    By stumps yesterday Australia’s lead was 146 thanks to the brilliance of Marsh and bloody-mindedness of Steve Smith, who finished on 229 not out. It’s a measure of how relentlessly and predictably dominant Smith’s become that this story was all about his batting partner.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (128)

    • Roar Rookie

      December 17th 2017 @ 5:42am
      DJ DJ said | December 17th 2017 @ 5:42am | ! Report

      Well done Mitch Marsh. Good on him for the technique changes. The Shane Watson comparison is a great one. Shane never adjusted and will go down as the most disappointing test match player to play 50 tests in a generation. Let’s not get too excited. This pitch is an absolute road. The English bowlers as predicted gave nothing. Handscomb, Maxwell could well have scored hundreds here. MM is cashing in on an opportunity he should never have got. Ah well. Great for him. Great for Australia. Such is life….

      • December 17th 2017 @ 7:52am
        Jameswm said | December 17th 2017 @ 7:52am | ! Report

        I don’t think it’s a complete road. There are some gremlins.

      • December 17th 2017 @ 8:19am
        Jeffrey Dun said | December 17th 2017 @ 8:19am | ! Report

        “Good on him for the technique changes.”

        Agreed. I’ve often wondered on these boards what batting coaches do. When we see Australian batting efforts in SL or in England on a green seamer it seems that coaches contribute little or nothing to the way we bat in unfamiliar conditions.

        Marsh has obviously transformed himself technically, I assume with the help of a coach somewhere (Justin Langer?).

        It is a fabulous innings. His driving in front of the wicket is some of the best I’ve seen. I don’t recall him giving a chance – a few french cuts were the only obviously false shots. MMash’s renaissance augers well for Australian cricket.

        Once again, I have to say it: Hats off to the selectors.

        • December 17th 2017 @ 7:16pm
          DaveJ said | December 17th 2017 @ 7:16pm | ! Report

          Apparently former WA bat Scott Meuleman has been coaching him.

      • December 17th 2017 @ 8:20am
        Don Freo said | December 17th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

        A road on which the Poms lost 6 for 35 including 2 century makers….then it became a road again?

        I wonder if you know what is meant when you repeat other people who refer to a ‘road’. I imagine you see it as some kind of generic put down.

        Explain England’s failure.

        • December 17th 2017 @ 8:22am
          Rob JM said | December 17th 2017 @ 8:22am | ! Report

          Mitch Marsh made 0 and 6 against the Australian Attack a few weeks ago. Last Time I checked the quality of bowling effects you batting performance.

          • December 17th 2017 @ 8:35am
            Don Freo said | December 17th 2017 @ 8:35am | ! Report

            Are you familiar with the names and careers of Anderson and Broad?

            Are you aware of Marsh’s JLT performances or his 402 Shield runs this year. Almost 600 FC runs before Christmas and a lmost 1000 runs this season in total.

            Not familiar with this great game Rob?

            • December 17th 2017 @ 9:16am
              Rob JM said | December 17th 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

              What was more impressive Don, Maxwell’s hundred or this one. Yes you could argue that Picking M Marsh over Handscomb was justified, but clearly Maxwell has much better form with the Bat than Marsh and Marshes bowling clearly isn’t up to scratch post surgery yet which is hardly a surprise. Until Marsh gets his bowling he clearly is the wrong pick compared to Maxwell.

              • Roar Guru

                December 17th 2017 @ 9:59am
                Jay Dunbar said | December 17th 2017 @ 9:59am | ! Report

                A guy scores 180 not out after coming in a pressure situation and it’s the wrong pick? Road or not, I’d say his selection is more than just

              • December 17th 2017 @ 6:48pm
                Don Freo said | December 17th 2017 @ 6:48pm | ! Report

                Why does one have to be more impressive than the other? They are both impressive, hence my bemusement at criticism of such players.

                You seem to always want to argue that if one guy is good, the other is atrocious. People who know sport don’t do that. We know we are talking about people who have achieved that much that they are all in contention. Maxi is a gun but he is not playing right now.

              • December 17th 2017 @ 7:36pm
                Brian said | December 17th 2017 @ 7:36pm | ! Report

                I’d be picking Maxwell over Usman. Khawaja is looking average at the moment, not moving his feet whatsoever, and got extremely lucky in his 50: he should be cashing in at home, because he’s abysmal overseas.

                Marsh batted really well, but he needs to score some consistent runs which he deserves the opportunity to do. His bowling has been rubbish this test.

            • December 17th 2017 @ 9:57am
              Slane said | December 17th 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

              Don Freo: None of Mitch Marsh’s previous test failures will tell us how he is going to perform in his current stint.

              Also Don Freo: Anderson and Broad have had good careers so therefor they are bowling well during this test.

              I’m sure you can justify your own cognitive dissonance.

              • December 17th 2017 @ 6:50pm
                Don Freo said | December 17th 2017 @ 6:50pm | ! Report

                Just throwing the silly arguments of others back at them. You read what you want to read, you always do. Can’t count on you to ever read what was said.

            • Columnist

              December 17th 2017 @ 12:06pm
              Ronan O'Connell said | December 17th 2017 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

              The pitch is very good for batting, but then again Australia could have, and should have, rolled England for less than 300 – they fielded very poorly, wasting four opportunities, which allowed England to get up to 400.

        • Roar Rookie

          December 17th 2017 @ 9:30am
          DJ DJ said | December 17th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

          This is easy to explain. Australia has a better side overall in all areas and are playing at home. England’s two strike bowlers have one eye on retirement, our bowlers are at their peak and are world class… need I go on? It doesn’t take away from the fact this wicket is a batsman’s paradise.

          • Roar Guru

            December 17th 2017 @ 9:49am
            Dalgety Carrington said | December 17th 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

            Well if we’re getting technical, the actual fact is Marsh’s score is the second highest in the game so far, which requires no interpretation, shoe-horning or post-event engineering.

            • December 17th 2017 @ 1:58pm
              Train Without A Terminus said | December 17th 2017 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

              There seems to be plenty of post event engineering going on from people who weren’t to be seen beforehand but who now were absolutely certain that his selection was guaranteed to be a success, hey Dalgety?

              • Roar Rookie

                December 17th 2017 @ 3:18pm
                Matthew Pearce said | December 17th 2017 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

                Plenty of us were always here.

                We were simply drowned out by all the naysayers and bandwagon doom prophesiers.

          • December 17th 2017 @ 10:32am
            Jeffrey Dun said | December 17th 2017 @ 10:32am | ! Report

            “It doesn’t take away from the fact this wicket is a batsman’s paradise.”

            Only seems to be a batsman’s paradise when England are bowling.

            • December 18th 2017 @ 6:27am
              Perry Bridge said | December 18th 2017 @ 6:27am | ! Report

              The pitch got better as the game progressed – and day 3 (as generally should be the case in test cricket) was the best time to bat. M.Marsh was very good – on his home track upon which he’s batted very well so far this season. In many respects it was a ‘safe bet’ for the selectors.

              It hasn’t necessarily answered too many of the many questions around M.Marsh long term.

              This English attack is somewhat ineffectual in Australian conditions (other than with the pink ball in a D/N test).

              And on Day 4 he got out for a 2nd ball duck – effectively.

              I’m not saying that anyone would have done better than him – – what I am suggesting is that more would have been found out had he been batting in the night session vs the pink ball in Adelaide. Thus in that change room at present – can you imagine Pete Handscomb saying “Well done” to M.Marsh but inside being so, so, very dirty on him/the selectors.

        • December 18th 2017 @ 10:15pm
          John Erichsen said | December 18th 2017 @ 10:15pm | ! Report

          A careless shot from Malan, a tail afraid of short pitched bowling and Bairstow, running outvof partners again, forcing things. Its easy to explain, Don… if you don’t have an agenda to protect.
          The pitch did however have some pace and bounce which offered more to bowlers than a couple of years ago. Now that WACA pitch was a road…

          • December 19th 2017 @ 12:41am
            Don Freo said | December 19th 2017 @ 12:41am | ! Report

            Surely you are not trying to argue that all 20 English wickets were the result of accident or carelessness…and that Australia surrendered theirs on a handicap concession.

            • December 19th 2017 @ 8:30am
              John Erichsen said | December 19th 2017 @ 8:30am | ! Report

              Don, you don’t understand context, even when you set that context. You stated the 6/35 collapse. Where in that context was all 20 English wickets mentioned. You really can be very silly sometimes.

              • December 19th 2017 @ 10:48am
                Don Freo said | December 19th 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

                That’s how many wickets you need to take to dismiss a team twice.

                The Aussies did that, proving it was not what the cliched crew would call “a road”.

                Gee you lead with your chin.

      • December 17th 2017 @ 9:14am
        Keggas said | December 17th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        Cook, Vince, Stoneham, Root, Warner , Bancroft , Khawaja.

        All players who couldn’t score a hundred on this alleged road. How about you just give the bloke some credit for a great knock.

    • December 17th 2017 @ 6:52am
      Rtp said | December 17th 2017 @ 6:52am | ! Report

      Handscomb couldn’t score a ton in his backyard right now. Maxwell would have. But well done to Mitch. The time he came in was ideal and the pitch is good but in terms of personal pressure you can’t have much more than he did. And England didn’t bowl rubbish.

    • December 17th 2017 @ 7:37am
      jamesb said | December 17th 2017 @ 7:37am | ! Report

      I will put my hand up and say that I was one of those doubters. When someone averaged 21 from 21 tests with the bat, it’s very hard not to be doubtful about a person’s ability at test level.

      But he batted very well yesterday, and good on him. I did say in the past that he was standing tall at the crease and would go hard at the ball. But in this innings, he was crouching a little and was using soft hands. And he was playing straight. How many boundaries has he hit down the ground?

      So is this innings a turning point, or is it a just one off? Time will tell. If M.Marsh does kick on from here, he would make a huge difference to the side in terms of balance.

      • December 17th 2017 @ 8:20am
        Rob JM said | December 17th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

        Considering we are playing South Africa next, I would much prefer the balance Glen Maxwell brings to the side.
        His 100 vs india was much more impressive than this innings. He should also be bought in for the next two games based on the selection criteria M Marsh was picked on.

        Mitch Marsh didn’t prove anything today, we already knew he was a good flat track/short form batsmen.

        • December 17th 2017 @ 8:32am
          Jameswm said | December 17th 2017 @ 8:32am | ! Report

          Yeah he proved that he has improved.

          Whether he is a long term option at 6 we can’t judge after one innings.

        • December 17th 2017 @ 10:39am
          Jeffrey Dun said | December 17th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

          “Mitch Marsh didn’t prove anything today…”.

          Yes he did. I’ve not seen that Mitch Marsh before. He’s proved that he can address his technical faults and come back a better batsman.

        • December 17th 2017 @ 11:14am
          Rob said | December 17th 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

          I totally agree with you about M. Marsh. He belted a bowling attack on their knees after 90 overs in the field and with the series gone. He’s playing Broad, Anderson and other mid 130km bowlers in conditions completely foreign to them on an absolute road in his backyard. But he can only do what he did.
          Yes it’s a smart selection with all the stars aligning for Mitchell Marsh to be in a perfect position to capitalise on his opportunity. We will never know what Handscomb or Maxwell could have done given the same opportunity? He has made 180 and is a big chance of scoring 300 if yesterdays performance is anything to go by? Unlike his dropped catch in slip earlier in the game, he’s taken his opportunity with the bat with both hands. The big test for Mitchell is to score consistently and when the conditions are tougher. Good luck to him.

        • December 17th 2017 @ 11:35am
          TheCunningLinguistic said | December 17th 2017 @ 11:35am | ! Report

          Oh, get off it, Rob. Give the man some bloody credit when it’s due. You’re so bitter…

          • December 17th 2017 @ 11:53am
            Rob said | December 17th 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

            I gave him credit if you read my comment. You are obviously a Marsh cheerleader. I do think they have been awarded opportunities that others haven’t. On this occasion it was an early Christmas present from the selectors.

            • December 17th 2017 @ 4:43pm
              TheCunningLinguistic said | December 17th 2017 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

              Sorry Rob- I was replying to Rob JM, not you. I should’ve made that clear!

      • Roar Rookie

        December 17th 2017 @ 11:33am
        Bunney said | December 17th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

        I’m with you jamesb.

        I like MMarsh, and held the faith for a long time, but he didn’t deliver and had to go. And I wouldn’t have picked him for this test either, thinking he simply hadn’t done enough to earn a recall, but his innings yesterday was excellent.

        For people who are saying it was a road, against a tired attack – only Smith has outscored him this match so far. He’s played very well and you should at least acknowledge that.
        And for people saying “I told you so” and saying the selection was fully justified, get over it – this is his second highest score ever in a first class match. This wasn’t a predictable return. Let’s wait and see if his form lasts. I hope so.

      • December 17th 2017 @ 3:08pm
        rock86 said | December 17th 2017 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

        You’ve hit the nail on the head jamesb, as we alluded to yesterday. A great knock and well done to MMarsh, he’s got Australia in a great position along side Smith so he should be proud of it.

        Let’s hope this actually is a turning point and he puts some consistency together at test level, it would be great to have him averaging 35+, but a swallow doesn’t make a summer, so only time will tell over the next few tests and against SA early next year.

    • December 17th 2017 @ 7:46am
      Mitcher said | December 17th 2017 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      Love seeing anyone score runs for Australia. Especially someone with the potential that Mitch Marsh has.

      It would be reckless tho to suggest that a rail run return to the side on a home, tailored made batting paradise erases the well justified question marks.

      Before any of the acolytes accuse me of death riding, let me state unequivocally I want this guy to become a great of the game and make my doubts look like the empty nattering of a loco fool.

      I also wish well to the coterie of highly talented domestic bats who haven’t been given the opportunities bestowed on some whose surname starts with M and ends with Arsh.

    • December 17th 2017 @ 7:46am
      Internal Fixation said | December 17th 2017 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      Congratulations Mitch Marsh.

      Talent finally fulfilled!

      Steve Smith’s first 200, highest test score and 4th consecutive calendar year 1000 runs has been lost a bit in the Marsh “disbelief.” This is mentioned in the last paragraph – I think it would be great to have a bit more credit to the best since the Don.

      Without Smith playing confidently at the other end I doubt Marsh would have been able to play his great innings. I bet Smith wanted Marsh selected so it is a great vindication for him as well.

      Well done to both. Now for a 300 lead and Starc to get 6/40 in the poms second innings .

      • December 17th 2017 @ 8:00am
        Jameswm said | December 17th 2017 @ 8:00am | ! Report

        FYI it’s Smith’s 2nd double.

        • December 17th 2017 @ 9:15am
          Internal Fixation said | December 17th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

          Sorry – should have said 1st at home

    • December 17th 2017 @ 7:49am
      Onside said | December 17th 2017 @ 7:49am | ! Report

      Drop in pitches have neutered the essence and variety of Test cricket.

      Male and female fast food cricket will undoubtedly benefit.

      • December 17th 2017 @ 8:08am
        Jeffrey Dun said | December 17th 2017 @ 8:08am | ! Report

        The WACA is not a drop in.

        • December 17th 2017 @ 8:25am
          Don Freo said | December 17th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

          There are 2 days left…a result is most likely if weather does not intrude. An excellent Test wicket.

          Maybe you lack the patience to watch Test cricket unfold. Wait until the Aussies bowl.

        • December 17th 2017 @ 8:59am
          Onside said | December 17th 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

          Didn’t know that, thanks Jeffrey. I suppose I could be excused for thinking it behaved like one.

          • December 17th 2017 @ 9:16am
            Keggas said | December 17th 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

            It is behaving nothing like a drop in.

            Just cos the poms can’t bowl doesn’t make the pitch bad.

          • Roar Guru

            December 17th 2017 @ 9:40am
            Chris Kettlewell said | December 17th 2017 @ 9:40am | ! Report

            The new ground they will be moving to in Perth will be a drop-in, but the WACA isn’t. It has produced some very dead roads over recent years though. This one is tough for bowlers, but probably has more in it than previous years. The number of batsmen who’ve got starts and got out suggests it’s still doing a bit. The odd ball is leaping, keeping low, moving sideways off the seam. England weren’t able to capitalise, and the aim now should be to score 120+ or so in the first session, then come out after lunch and tee off for a bit, see if they can get 750 or so by the middle of the second session and then have 4 1/2 sessions at England with a 350 lead.

            Basically something similar to what India did to them in one of the tests over there where England made a 400+ total only for India to make 7/750 and win by an innings.

            • Roar Guru

              December 17th 2017 @ 10:41am
              Dalgety Carrington said | December 17th 2017 @ 10:41am | ! Report

              It’ll be interesting to see what sort of pitch they come up with at the new stadium. Supposedly they’ve been pouring the latest technology into the drop in pitches for a few years and using the original WACA clay composition to create them.

              Conceivably they could have more of the “WACA” bounce and character than the actual current WACA pitch, because they can be engineered more completely with the old clay and unencumbered by a drainage overkill.

      • December 17th 2017 @ 8:33am
        Mitcher said | December 17th 2017 @ 8:33am | ! Report

        Scarily off the mark comment. These people actually walk among us. I’m fearful.

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