Chennai, Mar 23 (IANS): In 2021, when Mitchell Marsh was elevated to batting at number three in the T20I team, few would have predicted that it would prove to be a master-stroke as Australia went on to win the T20 World Cup in the UAE.
Cut to 2023, and with David Warner unavailable due to injury, Marsh was made the makeshift opener for ODIs against India, slamming 81 and 66 not out in Mumbai and Visakhapatnam.
When Warner came back for the series decider in Chennai, Marsh retained his spot as an opener and made a quick 47 with the veteran left-handed batter slotted in at number four.
Despite getting Player of the Series award in Australia's 2-1 series win for making 194 runs at an average of 97, Marsh still believes Warner will slot back as an opener in the build up to the ODI World Cup, to be held in India in October-November.
"I certainly enjoyed the opportunity to open the batting. But as a group we spoke before the first game that this really the start of our campaign for the World Cup and certain guys are going to bat in different positions at times and it's really important we have a squad mentality.
With Davey out for the first couple of games it was my opportunity. He's been an incredible player for Australia for a long time and probably one of the best ODI openers ever so I'm sure he'll slot back in at some stage but think it's really important that we are all flexible and it was nice to perform for the team," the batter said in the post-match press conference.
Marsh also went on to praise left-arm spin all-rounder Ashton Agar for turning the game on its head with successive dismissals of Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav to break the back of India's chase of 270.
Agar had arrived in India as Australia's second spinner in Tests last month, but was sent back home after the second Test in New Delhi as Todd Murphy and Matthew Kuhnemann were handed debuts. After taking Western Australia to one-day cup victory back home, Agar had to sit out of the first two ODIs before taking 2/41 in Chennai.
"Certainly it has been an indifferent sort of six weeks for him but Ash (Agar) is one of my closest mates. He's one of the most resilient characters I know. That's why he's able to come and perform whenever he plays for Australia. He's been the second spinner to Adam Zampa for a long period of time, but one of his strengths is his ability to be present when he's playing and competing," Marsh said.
"I am really proud of the way he's handled himself for the last six weeks and it is a testament to the group that we have guys like him that just want to play for Australia and he was fantastic tonight," he added.
All-rounder Marsh was unable to bowl in the ODIs against India due to him taking a careful approach in playing the game after undergoing an ankle surgery in November 2022. It meant that another pace all-rounder Marcus Stoinis bowled a lot of his overs, especially in sharing the new ball with left-arm pace spearhead Mitchell Starc.
"It was fantastic. It was certainly a lot easier on the body. I was a lot fresher when I was batting. But I just love bowling and I love the fact that we have all-rounders in the squad. It gives our captain a lot of options when we're out there," he said.
"Poor old Stoiny (Stoinis) had to bowl 10 overs and I felt bad for him. We spoke about it briefly before, and we haven't done that in a long time. As much as I love bowling, it is also about being there for my mates and making sure I give the skipper as many options as I can. So hopefully the bowling's not too far away," he concluded.