Marsh now 100 per cent English: Report
Published: Sunday, May 11, 2003, 22:20 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
Australian Marsh chosen Eng selector
London: Australia great Rodney Marsh has said he is "100 per cent English now in terms of cricket" after being made an England selector. "If I'm still a selector when England next play Australia (in 2005) then I'll be rooting for England to win, of course I will," Marsh, 55, also told the 'Sunday Express'. Former Australia wicket-keeper Marsh, who once unflatteringly branded England bowlers as a bunch of "pie-chuckers", has run England's academy for promising players since its inception in 200. He previously held a similar post in Australia where he was responsible for nurturing the careers of several members of the world champion side. And, contrary to popular belief in his homeland, Marsh maintained there were talented young cricketers in England, saying Nottinghamshire gloveman Chris Read was a "helluva better lot better wicket-keeper batsman than I was at the same age of 24". Read made his England debut in 1999 but, following a shaky start, was dropped after three Tests. However Read, coached by Marsh as a member of England's most recent Academy squad in Australia last year, is now seen as the leading contender to succeed England veteran Alec Stewart when the 40-year-old Surrey stalwart finally departs the international scene. And Marsh, who at the start of his own Test career was dubbed 'Iron Gloves' after some poor displays during the 1970-71 series against England in Australia, added of Read, "If he can continue to work on his game, then by the age of 36, the time I retired, he might well be as good as anyone." Not that Marsh was predicting Read would be recalled by England for the first Test against Zimbabwe at Lord's later this month. "As in all new positions, if you're half-smart, you keep your ears open and your mouth shut for a little while." Marsh said he was not blind to the claims of older England candidates but insisted, "If you have a young fella and an old fella and they're equal - then you'll always go for the young fella." "This is not rocket science. It's common sense. The trouble is that cricket is a game that is confused by people all over the world." And he added that the key to improving England's international fortunes was creating an environment which produced mentally tougher cricketers. "We need a culture that isn't soft. When you have people prepared to be hard, prepared to lay down everything for the team, then England will have not just 11 players ready for Test cricket but 30 guys to choose from." Marsh was made a selector on Tuesday after Test skipper Nasser Hussain said he no longer wanted to be on the four-man panel because international fixtures meant he did not play in enough domestic cricket to see England hopefuls. During a 96-Test career, spanning 14 years, Marsh became one of cricket's great wicket-keeper/batsmen, scoring three hundreds, before retiring in 1984 with a then world-record 355 Test dismissals.