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'My best can match it with anyone' - Mitchell Marsh

Fit-again allrounder sets sights on the Ashes but his immediate focus is the ODI series in India

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Mitchell Marsh will play as a specialist batter in the ODI series in India  •  Getty Images

Mitchell Marsh will play as a specialist batter in the ODI series in India  •  Getty Images

Mitchell Marsh did not realise how much he was being hampered by his ankle injury until he made the decision to have surgery and is now feeling rejuvenated as he sets out with twin ambitions for the months ahead.
Most immediately is the ODI series against India, a stepping stone to the World Cup later this year, but before that he hopes to find a place in Australia's Test squad for the Ashes.
Marsh underwent surgery after the T20 World Cup and ODI series against England during which he had carried the ankle problem that he initially picked up against Zimbabwe. He was out of action for three months, missing the entire BBL, but made an immediate impact on his return for Western Australia with a Sheffield Shield century and a fifty in the Marsh Cup final.
He still won't be available to bowl in the three matches against India, instead eyeing a return with the ball during the IPL with Delhi Capitals.
Marsh has not played Test cricket since a one-off return against England at The Oval in 2019 where he claimed his first five-wicket haul. He was then ruled out of contention for the next series, back home against Pakistan, after he broke his hand punching a dressing room wall at the WACA during a Sheffield Shield match.
The following season Cameron Green emerged into the Test side and has cemented the allrounder role at No. 6, although in recent months there could have been an opening for Marsh if he hadn't been sidelined. It's unlikely that he and Green will play in the same side, but he wants to be in position to take an opportunity if it arises.
"I feel I've really developed as a person and feel like every single year I've got better as a cricketer," he told ESPNcricinfo ahead of the opening ODI in Mumbai. "I'm full of confidence at the moment that my best can match it with anyone. I'm hopeful to get another opportunity in red-ball cricket but if it doesn't happen I'll keep plugging away and be happy to represent Australia in whatever team I can.
"At 31 years of the age, we've seen a lot of guys who have hit their peak around that age. Hopefully that's the case for me."
He admitted to a hint of 'what if' when Green was absent for three Tests against South Africa and India with a broken finger but knew he'd had no choice but to get his ankle fixed.
"It's natural to feel that way at times, but in the same sentence if I'd kept going with my ankle I probably wouldn't have got through and it would have been more detrimental to the team," he said. "I never want to put my own personal goals ahead of anything that comes with team.
"I've said that getting in the Ashes squad is a real goal of mine. I'm hopeful that's the case, but I also understand that might not be. It was certainly part of the reason I got the surgery done."
Marsh, who played a key role in Australia's 2021 T20 World Cup victory after his promotion to No. 3, made the best of his enforced break and when he was able to train again worked extensively on his batting with coaches Scott Meuleman and Beau Casson.
"You never really know when you come back how it will pan out but was pretty confident in myself," he said. "Generally speaking through my career I've been best when fresh. Getting a chance to have a break from the rollercoaster ride that international cricket is, I used the time as wisely as I possibly could."
Ultimately, however, an opportunity to add to his 32 Test caps could well be out of his hands as Green continues to make huge strides in Test cricket. Having claimed a maiden five-wicket at the MCG in the game he suffered the broken finger he scored a maiden Test century in Ahmedabad last week.
"The trajectory of his career is only going up," Marsh said. "He's got a level head on him, he loves learning. He's got all the attributes to be a great cricketer and he's sort of got through that period now of all the hype around him.
"Now we are starting to see him just perform. He's gaining a lot of respect around world cricket, not just as a young player but as an established international cricketer. Now he has that belief in himself he will be able to keep pushing the boundaries. And they are big boundaries for him so anything is possible."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo