Home » Cricket Home » News » Remembering Rod Marsh: An Instrumental Figure in the Making of NCA

Remembering Rod Marsh: An Instrumental Figure in the Making of NCA

By: G Krishnan

Last Updated: March 05, 2022, 08:18 IST

Two wicketkeeping giants of world cricket, Rodney Marsh of Australia (left) with India's own Syed Kirmani. PHOTO BY G KRISHNAN

Two wicketkeeping giants of world cricket, Rodney Marsh of Australia (left) with India's own Syed Kirmani. PHOTO BY G KRISHNAN

The rise in stature of NCA to where it is today is because of the seeds sown by Rodney Marsh 22 years ago.

The one half of the famous ‘caught Marsh bowled Lillee’ combination is now history. One of the all-time wicketkeeping greats, Rodney Marsh of Australia, passed away on Friday morning at the age of 74, bringing an end to a golden chapter in Australian, and world cricket, history.

The ‘c Marsh b Lillee’  figured on 95 occasions in Test scorebooks. So made-for-each other were Lillee and Marsh that the two finished their Test careers with 355 dismissals, Marsh behind the stumps (343 catches and 12 stumpings) in 96 Tests between 1970 and 1984 while the pace legend took 355 wickets in 70 Tests between 1971 and 1984, both of them ending their careers in the same Test – Australia vs Pakistan in Sydney, January 1984.

Marsh was a towering figure in Australian cricket but also made an impact in English cricket as well as in India. In England, he was the director of England and Wales Cricket Board National Academy and overlooked the rise of some of the cricketers who went on to dominate world cricket including a certain Kevin Pietersen. He was also a selector of the England cricket team before chairing the Australian selection committee for many years.

Shane Warne Dies LIVE Updates: Great Southern Stand at the MCG to be Renamed SK Warne Stand


Accompanying the England ‘A’ side to India in 2003-04, Marsh was making Pietersen understand that he had to serve the qualification period to be eligible to play for the England Test team. After Pietersen scored a scintillating century for England ‘A’ in a one-dayer in Bengaluru in February 2004, he dashed up to Marsh outside the dressing room and was curious to know if he was selected in the England squad for the tour of the West Indies that was announced around that time. That’s when Marsh told him that he had to fulfil the eligibility criteria of four years in English county cricket. No sooner had the South Africa-born Pietersen fulfilled the four years than he got selected to play for England, and the rest is history.


Marsh’s association with Indian cricket cannot be forgotten and goes a long way. He was instrumental in setting up the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in May 2000 in Bengaluru. The rise in stature of NCA to where it is today is because of the seeds sown by Marsh 22 years ago. With the then big heads of the Board of Control for Cricket in India including Raj Singh Dungarpur deciding to start the NCA along the lines of the Australian Cricket Academy, Marsh was roped in to set the ball rolling.

RIP Shane Warne: The Top Numbers From The Legend’s International Career

Marsh also developed coaches and conducted courses for them, once even bringing in fellow wicketkeepers from Australia, Brian Taber, his senior, and Wayne Phillips, his successor, to train the Indian coaches, most of whom were former captains of the game and Indian legends including his contemporaries Bishan Singh Bedi, Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Syed Kirmani, Kiran More and Lalchand Rajput, to name just a few.

Rodney Marsh, as consultant to National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, with renowned coach Vasu Paranjape. PHOTO BY G KRISHNAN

Marsh had said before the inauguration of NCA then: “The academy will increase the depth of talent in Indian cricket. If we can help 30 or 40 players who can be readied for the highest level, that is for Tests and ODIs, that should make Indian cricket a bit stronger.”

Marsh also brought with him Australian physio Bernard Savage to keep the initial batches of NCA trainees in top shape. Among other things, Savage showed the then India hopefuls the right techniques to run without getting injured. Marsh wanted the Indian players to not just get selected but also wanted them to be successful at the highest level. “The aim is not just to be chosen at the highest level but also to be successful,” was Marsh’s philosophy.

Marsh supervised NCA’s functioning for at least the first three years and ensured it had a strong base.

Marsh was also one of the first pioneers in world cricket who did not believe in the runs made by wicketkeepers as a bonus for the team. He told this journalist way back in 2000 in Bengaluru that wicketkeepers were all-rounders too: “Those days are gone. It is important that the batsmen know how to bowl and the bowlers also bat. These days a team requires all-rounders to survive.”

How true that has become a significant area in today’s cricket.

Marsh also held wicketkeeping sessions for the Indian team whenever they had camps in Bengaluru, and some of those who benefitted from his expertise include Ajay Ratra, Deep Dasgupta and Sameer Dighe.


Legendary India wicketkeeper and Marsh’s contemporary, Syed Kirmani, told news18.com from New Delhi, where he is on a promotional visit: “How sad. He was a very dear friend of mine. My condolences to his family. Very sad to hear that he is no more. I loved his character. It is a huge loss to cricket, and the wicketkeeping fraternity in particular. May his soul rest in peace!”

Kirmani continued: “I used to hear about Rodney Marsh as early as in 1971 when I was the baby of the Indian team with Ajit Wadekar as the captain. I grew up hearing a lot about Marsh, Alan Knott, Wasim Bari, some of the great wicketkeepers of the world then. I was very fortunate to come across Marsh when I first visited Australia on the 1977-78 tour of Australia. He came across as a very friendly, lovable character.

Rodney Marsh, as consultant to National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, with renowned coach Vasu Paranjape. PHOTO BY G KRISHNAN

“He was so athletic, short like GRV. His reflexes and agility were superb. The catches he took standing behind to Lillee and Jeff Thomson in particular were outstanding, I took a lot of time talking to him on fitness and the requirements for a wicketkeeper.”

The 72-year-old Kirmani, who was adjudged the best wicketkeeper of the 1983 World Cup, a tournament that also had the likes of Marsh, Jeff Dujon from the West Indies, Wasim Bari of Pakistan, among other greats.

Kirmani fondly recollects an incident from that World Cup: “At a formal party, we wicketkeepers were chatting, and present were Ian Smith, Dujon, Alan Knott, Bob Taylor, Marsh and others. I looked at the four greats whom I admired – Knott, Marsh, Taylor and Bari – and pointing fingers at them, told them, ‘I consider you guys as No. 1, the world’s best, to which Knott stopped me and said pointing at me, ‘Thank you, Kiri, we appreciate whatever you think about us. But a wicketkeeper is judged by how he stood up to the spinners. Anybody could keep to fast bowlers but you are the best in the world as you have stood up to Bishan Bedi, BS Chandrasekhar and Erapalli Prasanna. We consider you as the best in the world. You have a fraction of a second to coordinate and synchronise while standing to spinners.’ The rest of the wicketkeepers including Marsh nodded their heads in agreement and that to me was a great compliment.”


West Indies’ great Jeff Dujon told news18.com from Jamaica, “It was with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Rodney Marsh. We first met in my debut Test match, which was at the MCG in 1982, and maintained a lasting friendship. As a young player, his wicketkeeping and aggressive style of play influenced my approach to the game significantly.

“’Doesn’t matter what it looks like, just get the job done, mate. There’s no remarks column in the scorebook’," he once told me. His achievements are a matter of record. He was outstanding for Australia both as a player and later as an administrator. I will dearly miss the affable and straightforward character I have been so proud to call a friend. Deepest condolences to Rose and the family. RIP, Marshy."

Kirmani and Marsh also exchanged notes on wicketkeeping and techniques of keeping whenever they met. At the NCA coaches’ course, Kirmani asked Marsh about the changing techniques of wicketkeeping.

Kirmani, who played in 88 Tests and effected 198 dismissals (160 catches and 38 stumpings), remembered asking Marsh at the coaches’ course: “I asked Marsh, ‘What is your view on the new style of wicketkeeping by the current era who collect the ball away from the body. You have not collected it to your right or left but in front of you. I have held my catches in front of me. Correct me if I am wrong.’ To which, Marsh only shrugged his shoulders and nodded in agreement, while the others did not stand up to say I was wrong.”

Kirmani concluded by saying: “Marsh was a lovely team man, a great source of inspiration for the team and the bowlers.”


Former India wicketkeeper Kiran More fondly remembered Marsh. “He was instrumental in setting up the first batch at NCA. He was very senior, a fatherly figure who knew the game and played cricket the hard way. His record is unbelievable. A true legend of the game, there was always a lot to learn from him. It was a great learning experience for me at the NCA.

Rodney Marsh (back to camera) with Kiran More, Brian Taber and Syed Kirmani during the NCA coaches course in early 2000s. PHOTO BY G KRISHNAN

“He showed us (upcoming coaches) how the wicketkeeping drills are done, talked about a lot of things concerning wicketkeeping, what should be done, how it should be done, the mental status.”

More also remembered Marsh from his earlier tours of Australia with the Indian team. “I met him in Australia when we toured. He was a person who believed that wicketkeepers also scored runs as pure batsmen. He and Alan Knott of England set up this thing that wicketkeepers can also score runs and be counted. When you talk about that era, Knott and Marsh were the top wicketkeepers in world cricket,” More said.


Former India medium-pacer and 1983 World Cup winning member, Balwinder Singh Sandhu worked closely as head coach of NCA with Marsh. Sandhu had fond memories of Marsh. He told this website: “I had a good rapport with him. That year (2002), he said that for the first time in two years, NCA has started running properly. Till that time, it was just going through the motions. ‘Now it is running like an academy’, he had said then. He even told Brijesh Patel (the then NCA director) this. Marsh had good knowledge, was very organised and had simple thoughts. He was a gentleman and I really enjoyed working with him, learning a lot from him.”

Sandhu at the NCA insisted on not copying the Australian style of cricket at NCA but continued with the Indian style, and told Marsh the same. “I told Marsh that we did not want to copy paste Australian cricket in India. We wanted to keep it Indian. The fitness side was what we wanted here. We did not want to play the Australian style. Australian methods, yes, we wanted to adopt but not entirely the Australian way. He agreed. Since I did Level 3 coaching course from Australia, I understood the Science of what he was incorporating at the NCA. I was a trained coach, having worked under Frank Tyson (at Mafatlal bowling scheme for fast bowlers in Mumbai). Understood the methodology, and Marsh was happy because I understood how it was to be operated. We were on the same page and we clicked as a team,” Sandhu added.

Like Kirmani always maintained, wicketkeepers are the best judges of the game. Marsh was definitely one among them, though he did not lead Australia even in a single Test.

The former England captain, Mike Brearley, once wrote in his book, The Art of Captaincy about Marsh: “Wicketkeepers make invaluable advisers to the captain; rarely captains themselves. I would rate Rodney Marsh the exception to this rule. For behind the abrasive front was a thoughtful, astute and humorous man, whose players when he led Western Australia, were totally committed to him. The Australian Board, however, were not. But their prejudice was not based on technical considerations, such as having a wicket-keeper as captain. For them he was tarred with the same brush as Ian Chappell, the brush of revolution and extremism. Greg Chappell, with his more dignified air, they could stomach as captain; but they refused to swallow Marsh. This was a major mistake; he might well have proved a more imaginative Test captain than Greg.”

Cricket will miss Rodney Marsh for sure.

Get all the latest updates on Cricket News, Cricket Photos, Cricket Videos, IPL Auction 2022 and Cricket Scores here

first published:March 05, 2022, 08:16 IST
last updated:March 05, 2022, 08:18 IST