Rod Marsh courts selection role
Rod Marsh has taken an interest in helping to lift Australian cricket out of its present rut, speaking with administrators about the possibility of joining the national selection panel.
Marsh is coming towards the end of a six-year stint as coaching director of the ICC global academy in Dubai, and is understood to have spoken to CA management about the selection panel and his desire to take part, preferably as chairman.
Formerly the head of the Australian cricket academy, now known as the Centre of Excellence (CoE), Marsh has recently spent time at the CoE in Brisbane with the Australia A and Australia squads ahead of their tours to Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, where he and the players enjoyed plenty of rapport.
At 63, Marsh is not contemplating retirement after his stint in Dubai. Instead, he may be about to embark upon perhaps his most difficult assignment since he concluded his international career as Australia's wicketkeeper in 1984, at the time holding the world record of 355 Test dismissals.
Steve Bernard, the former selector and Australian team manager, said Marsh "ticked all the boxes" and would be an ideal fit for a selection job.
"I've always found him a very astute judge of a cricketer and very knowledgeable about the game," Bernard told ESPNcricinfo. "He's got great experience in the game, his record with the academy as it was known then was fantastic and his own pedigree in cricket's terrific, so he ticks all of the boxes really, for a man who would be capable of doing a very good job as selector."
Communication and consistent messages between players and selectors has been cited by many as an issue, most notably by Simon Katich during his furious reaction to being dropped from the list of CA contracts. Bernard said Marsh, if appointed, would speak frankly and honestly with the players he dealt with.
"I think he showed that throughout his career as a player and in his role at the academy, he was very good and it's one of his great strengths, knowledge and communication skills," he said. "He's got pretty-much all of it. So yes, he would be a man who would be very good in that role I would think."
Should Marsh and CA reach terms, he would replace the incumbent chairman Andrew Hilditch, who is out of contract but has been retained until the conclusion of the current review into the performance of the Australian team. There is another vacancy on the panel following the resignation of David Boon to become an ICC match referee, leaving open the possibility of a re-shuffle that precedes the release of the review findings.
Hilditch has faced heavy criticism across his tenure, particularly when he stated his panel had done "a very good job" during last summer's horrid home Ashes defeat. As recently as June, Hilditch said he had no intention of standing aside, but would do so if a better option emerged.
"I'll just keep doing it until someone wants me to stop," Hilditch said. "It's one of the greatest periods in the sense that it's just so demanding, but at the same time it's exciting for the players because they have great challenges, and we have great challenges as a selection panel to get it right.
"I've been very lucky; I didn't have much of a contribution to Australian cricket as a player, but I'm really enjoying this role, doing the best I possibly can. If someone decides there's a better way to go then I'll be fully supportive of that as well."
The most vexing matter at hand if Marsh became chairman would be the role of Greg Chappell, who as CA's national talent manager and selector seemed the man next in line to take the chair. Chappell and Marsh, former team-mates in the feared Australian teams of the 1970s and early 1980s, are both known for strong opinions and would have to reach an understanding about how the roles would work. CA had faced plenty of obstacles to the dual positions of chairman and national talent manager last summer.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo