Sydney- Rod Marsh is remembered as ‘a colossal figure’ in Australian cricket who gave nearly 50 years of service to the sport as tributes were paid on Friday after his death from a heart attack during a charity event last week.
The 74-year-old, who played 96 Tests and went on to be national manager, was in an induced coma and died peacefully in an Adelaide hospital on Friday morning, his family confirmed.
“We are so grateful for all the love and support our family has received from so many over the past week,” they said in a statement. “It gave us strength in the toughest week of our lives.”
Marsh, who was born in Perth, made his international debut in 1970 against England before retiring in 1984 with what was then a world record 355 try rejections, 95 from the bowling of legendary paceman Dennis Lillee.
Nicknamed ‘Iron Gloves’, he also played 92 ODIs and, as a dashing southpaw, was the first Australian wicketkeeper to score in a Test century against Pakistan in 1982.
Following his playing career, he remained closely linked to the game as head of the Australian Cricket Academy, helping to train dozens of players, including Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Justin Langer, before becoming chairman of the selectors.
His former captain and longtime friend Ian Chappell told Channel Nine that Marsh was respected by everyone he played with and against.
“His tentacles were pretty common in cricket, so there were a lot of people who knew him, and even if someone didn’t necessarily like him, they respected him,” Chappell said.
“He was always happy to have a son, he had a good sense of humor, everyone who met him enjoyed his company.”
Current Test captain Pat Cummins hailed him as “a colossal figure in Australian cricket”.
“When I think of Rod, I think of a generous, larger-than-life character who always had a positive, relaxed and loving attitude towards life, and his passing leaves a huge void in the Australian cricketing community,” said Cummins, who is in Pakistan for the first test tour of Australia since 1998.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Marsh was his favorite player growing up and called him “a fierce competitor and an excellent sportsman who enjoyed what the game stood for”.
“He will be remembered as one of Australia’s greatest Test cricketers,” he added.
Big hitter Mark Waugh called Marsh “an absolute icon”.
“I had the pleasure of working with Rod for several years as a coach and you wouldn’t meet a more honest, down to earth and generous person. RIP,” he said on Twitter.
Even England supporter group Barmy Army paid tribute, tweeting: “Our hearts go out to the legend’s family and a big thank you to Rod for his amazing Ashes memories.”
Marsh was director of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s national academy from 2001 to 2005 and has been credited with helping to rejuvenate the national team.
Marsh had been attending a charity event in the state of Queensland last week when he collapsed, with his son Paul announcing on Monday that his father remained in an induced coma.
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