Four years ago Mitch Marsh thought Australia hated him. Now he’s an Allan Border medallist.
The career resurgence of the man dubbed “the Bison” was completed on Wednesday night when the star all-format, all-rounder cantered to victory in the most prestigious individual award in Australian cricket.
On the back of 1638 runs across Tests, ODIs and T20s, including a breakthrough and unforgettable Ashes century in Leeds and an even more brilliant unbeaten 177 against Bangladesh at the World Cup, Marsh was crowned Australia’s best player over the past 12 months.
The 32-year-old polled 223 votes, a whopping 79 ahead of Test captain Pat Cummins (144) and Steve Smith (141), evidence of a stunning year in red and white-ball cricket in a voting period during which 37 players played for Australia.
“Six months ago I thought I was just hanging on to my career, and this week I’m being rested from the ODIs,” Marsh said on the blue carpet on the way in to the event, unaware he’d won.
“Things change quickly.”
Marsh also paid tribute to his wife, Greta, who he said “pulled my head in a little bit” but reaffirmed how he plays his best cricket.
“It’s been a lot of fun the last 12 months, and I’m having fun playing cricket,” he said.
In and out of the Test team since his debut a decade ago against Pakistan in Dubai in 2014, Marsh only returned to the XI, after a four year absence during the 2023 Ashes, replacing Cameron Green.
He made an immediate impact blasting 118 in his first innings back, off 120 balls, and now remains part of a locked-in top six backed by selectors to take the Test team forward, with Green only getting back into the team after David Warner’s retirement.
Marsh was set for a pay rise of between $500,000 and $800,000 when new contracts are confirmed in coming months as a key part of all three Australian teams, a figure which could now rise.
He captained Australia’s ODI side in South Africa and is also the man most likely to lead Australia at the T20 World Cup being held in the West Indies and USA in July, taking charge of the upcoming series against the West Indies.
“There’s some good leadership capabilities in that squad but we’re certainly interested in exploring Mitch Marsh getting that opportunity for a while longer,” selection chief George Bailey said when Marsh was given the nod as captain.
It’s a mark of how far Marsh has come from being the one-time whipping boy of Australian cricket who felt unloved in 2019 as part of that Ashes squad.
“Yeah, most of Australia hate me,” Marsh said at the time, feeling the burden of being what many cricket fans thought was an unfulfilled talent who had been given more opportunities than he deserved.
Since then Marsh was man of the match in Australia’s brilliant T20 World Cup win in 2021, has become a Test lock and topped the scoring for his team with 344 runs in the 3-0 series win over Pakistan.
It was that performance which moved Cummins to declare Marsh was “thriving” as an international cricketer.
“He is thriving. He is just showing how good he is,” Cummins said.
Marsh joins an elite list of only 15 previous winners of the medal, a list that includes the best players of the past two decades, including Cummins, Steve Smith, a four-time winner as well as cricket greats Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh and the inaugural winner, Glenn McGrath.