Sandhurst (England): Former Australia wicket-keeper Rodney Marsh believes England can become world cricket's leading team by 2007 - and what is more he'll be helping them to reach that target.
| Marsh has recently been appointed England's first national academy director, having held a similar position in Australia since its academy was set up in 1988. He will shortly be leading his new charges, 17 players in all, to Adelaide where they will be based at the Australian Cricket Academy for four-and-a-half month training allied to a number of competitive matches. Asked on Monday if the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) mission statement to make England "the most successful and respected cricket nation in the world", a target it wants to reach by 2007, was realistic, Marsh replied, "Of course it's a realistic goal. I'm sure the people who drew it up wouldn't have said so if they didn't think it was realistic." Marsh was speaking at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, Surrey, southern England, where his charges are being put through their paces for a week by an institution best known for its 200-year-old role in training British Army officers. That Marsh, 54 next month, now has such a key role in England's set up will come as a surprise to those who remember him taking a series of spectacular catches off the likes of fellow Western Australian Dennis Lillee for his country's Test teams of the 1970s and early 1980s. Also a combative left-handed batsman when Marsh retired in 1984 it was with a then Test record 355 dismissals to his credit. So why had a man who had devoted so much of his life to beating England decided to help them now? "What world cricket needs is contests. That's what excited you about the game in the first place, made you want to play it," said Marsh. "People want to see two sides going at each other's throats. It's not much fun if one team is winning easily all the time." Marsh, who has signed a three-year contract, even though England is yet to announce where its Academy will be based, was as partisan as anyone when he was a player but said his attitude changed when he began coaching. "I saw some guys coaching who were so intense about winning and I realised that was the wrong way to go. What matters is how the players are developing." Marsh added that he hadn't taken the job out of pity for England, thrashed 4-1 by Australia, which consequently retained the Ashes it regained in 1989 during the recent series here earlier this year. "I don't think I could ever feel sorry for England," he joked. "But when you get older it doesn't matter who wins or loses. You don't feel like you did when you sat in the dressing room and had just got out. "Instead you want to see both teams playing decent cricket," explained Marsh. But self-discipline, as well as the ability to learn from others, is something he is expecting from all his players. "If they want to go out and get drunk every night they can't play for England. "I'll tell them once, I won't tell them again. There's too much opposition and the opposition's too good." |