Australian cricket great Rod Marsh has died aged 74 after suffering a major heart attack.
Marsh was flown to Royal Adelaide Hospital after suffering a serious heart attack while he was a passenger in a car on his way to a Bulls Masters charity event in Bundaberg.
He remained in an induced coma until his passing.
The former wicketkeeper represented Australia in 96 Test matches and 92 ODIs between 1970 and 1984.
Marsh scored 3633 Test runs and claimed 343 catches in his illustrious career and was the first Australian gloveman to score a Test century when he made 118 in the first Test against Pakistan in Adelaide in December 1972.
Marsh would go on to formal a lethal partnership with fast-bowling great Dennis Lillee, with 95 of his Test wickets caught by Marsh behind the stumps – ‘caught Marsh, bowled Lillee’ became part of Aussie cricket history.
Since his retirement, Marsh has stayed involved with cricket and has been a coach, commentator and national selector.
In 2005, he was inducted into Cricket Australia’s Hall of Fame.
Former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist grew up idolising Marsh and described him as ‘my absolute hero’.
“Shocked, I’m absolutely shattered. I can’t quite believe it, I just thought he was invincible,” Gilchrist said on SEN WA Breakfast.
“He was my absolute hero and I guess inspiration to all I set out to achieve and have a crack out. It really was him, he was just an idol, he helped me pursue what I wanted to do.”
“To have him come into my life and have such a profound impact on my sporting life and then personal life as a mate. I still can’t believe that he was in my group of friends, in my friendship circle. I can’t believe it, he seemed unreal, one of those guys that was on TV, they just didn’t seem like they were real people, like superheroes.”
Aussie fast-bowling great Brett Lee got to know Marsh during his time at the Australian Cricket Academy in 1994 and 1995 and said he was a great mentor and role model for the younger generation.
“Obviously a big fan growing up, you think about Lillee and Thommo (Jeff Thomson) steaming in and the great Rod Marsh behind the stumps taking speccys left and right. A wonderful keeper behind the stumps to spinners,” Lee said.
“For me to then go down as an 18 or 17-year-old to Adelaide, to the Cricket Academy, to meet Rod Marsh for the first time, to be under his guidance for a number of years. I just thought this guy is so normal, he’s such a great fella. Harsh but fair.”
Speaking to foxsports.com.au, former teammate Kerry O’Keeffe described Marsh as a ‘fantastic lieutenant’ on the cricket field while reflecting on their time playing together.
“Just so sad. I knew it was imminent. He was my wicket-keeper in all of my 24 Tests. We had some rollicking times together. A life well lived, that’s the key to Rodney,” O’Keeffe said.
“He was a realist (on the field). He was a great lieutenant, he was a fantastic lieutenant to whoever served under him. He wouldn’t deliver anything above his station.”
Current Australian Test captain Pat Cummins described Marsh as a ‘colossal figure in Australian cricket who gave close to 50 years of incredible service’.
“When I think of Rod I think of a generous and larger-than-life character who always had a life-loving, positive and relaxed outlook, and his passing leaves a massive void in the Australian cricket community,” said Cummins.
Although this author was too young to watch any of Marsh’s games, he has seen plenty of highlights and read plenty of tributes and articles since his tragic passing. Marsh was a pioneer of Australian cricket and will be forever missed, rest in peace.