Australia: Former wicketkeeper and selector Rod Marsh dies after heart attack

Former Australia wicketkeeper and erstwhile Director of the England Cricket Board Academy Rod Marsh has died at the age of 74.

Marsh had been in a critical condition after suffering a heart attack in Bundaberg, Queensland, last week, and died in South Australia’s capital Adelaide on Friday morning local time.

Marsh made 96 Test appearances for Australia and ended his career with a then-record 355 dismissals.

Australia legend Rod Marsh departs this world

He made a further 92 appearances in white-ball cricket for his country in an international career that lasted from 1970 to 1984.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison led a chorus of tributes to Marsh, calling him a “fierce competitor and a fine sportsman”.

He wrote on Twitter: “Very sad to hear of the passing of Rod Marsh. As a kid he was my favourite player. He was part of one of the most exciting eras in Australian and world cricket. He will be remembered as one of Australia’s greatest ever Test cricket players.

Morrison added: “He was a fierce competitor and a fine sportsman who valued what the game stood for. Rod Marsh was a proud Western Australian and an absolute Aussie legend. My deepest sympathies go to his wife Ros and children Paul, Dan and Jamie.”

Marsh’s final Test came against Pakistan in Sydney in January 1984. The same match in which Greg Chappell and Dennis Lillee also bowed out. The then familiar refrain of “caught Marsh, bowled Lillee” appeared on the scorecard for the 95th and final time.

Early days

Born in the suburbs of Perth in November 1947, Marsh was the younger brother of Graham Marsh, who became a professional golfer and claimed 10 victories on the European Tour.

They had both represented Western Australia in schoolboy cricket, but Rodney rose through the ranks to make his first-class debut with WA against the touring West Indies in 1968.

His international career had started inauspiciously – he was given the nickname ‘Iron Gloves’ after dropping a series of catches during the 1970-71 Ashes series.

Shane Warne Ashes
Marsh, right, was an England selector when Shane Warne and the Australia team visited for the 2005 Ashes (Rebecca Naden/PA)

But Marsh had earned selection on the basis of his batting. He became the first wicketkeeper to make a century for Australia with 118 against Pakistan in Adelaide in 1972. His glovework improved quickly too.

In all, he scored 3,633 runs with three centuries and 16 fifties while taking 343 catches and 12 stumpings in 96 Tests.

After a spell in commentary, Marsh became head coach of the Australian Cricket Academy in the 1990s. Helping also to develop the likes of Ricky Ponting, Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee.

He was lured to England in 2001. First as head of the national academy. Then also as an England selector from 2003 to 2005 – helping secure the famous Ashes victory of 2005 against those great talents he had nurtured for his homeland.