Geoffrey Robert Marsh
December 31, 1958, Northam, Western Australia
Right hand bat
Geoff Marsh, a right-hand opening batsman renowned for his no-frills style and dogged determination, made his first Test appearance in December 1985 in an unsettled Australian side still coming to terms with the retirement of legendary trio Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee and his namesake Rod Marsh. But after an inauspicious debut batting at No.3 against India in Adelaide, he was switched to opener where he began to solidify his spot, as well as the fragile top order, forming famous partnerships with two future Australian greats - firstly David Boon and then Mark Taylor. His steely, often grim, resolve in Tests was a contrast to his one-day batting, and it was in that he really flourished and found his true niche. His 117 one-day internationals yielded 4357 runs at an imposing average just shy of 40, which was almost seven runs higher than his Test average. His nine centuries and 22 half-centuries provided the platform for many Australian victories, with the highlight being the 1987 World Cup final triumph over England in India.
When he stepped into the coaching shoes left by long-time mentor Bob Simpson in July 1996, Marsh took control of an Australian side that was the best Test-playing nation in the world, but whose one-day team had been unable to build on the success of 1987. But Marsh seemingly made a seamless transition, and managed to not only continue Australia's awesome form in the Test arena but, after a few hiccups along the way, transform the one-day team into world champs yet again. He enjoyed Test series victories in the West Indies, Ashes triumphs and a historic win in Pakistan, with a 2-1 defeat in India in 1998 the only blemish. But like his own playing career, it will perhaps again be his one-day achievements that are most fondly remembered. After a faltering start to their 1999 World Cup campaign, Marsh orchestrated a stunning turnaround by the pre-tournament favourites, with the rampant Australians winning seven pulsating matches in a row, culminating in a crushing victory over a hapless Pakistan in the final, to lift the World Cup trophy for the second time.
After quitting the Australian job, Marsh was briefly an Australian selector before, in 2001, he took on an altogether different challenge - coaching Zimbabwe. But his tenure coincided with the politicalisation of the national side, and the defection of many key players, and his position became more marginalised and hopeless. He was later also a national selector for Australia, and in September 2011 took over as Sri Lanka's coach.
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