Rod Marsh's significant and enduring contribution to cricket in his 'home' states of Western Australia and South Australia has been honoured with the commissioning of a perpetual trophy accompanying Sheffield Shield encounters between the neighbouring rivals.
Rod Marsh Cup Cements Legend's Legacy
Marsh, who died suddenly in March 2022 aged 74, grew up in Perth and played for WA throughout his 14-year international career before moving to Adelaide in 1990 to take up the role of director at the Australian Cricket Academy.
Apart from his stints as head of England's academy from 2001-05 and at the helm of a similar venture launched by the ICC in Dubai, Marsh remained in SA and served as high performance director of the state's men's cricket program and then an SA Cricket Association board member from 2018-21.
"I guess Rod will always be associated with WA because that's where he played so much of his cricket," Tim Nielsen, current SACA high performance manager, told cricket.com.au.
"But he loved cricket around here (Adelaide Oval), he loved Kooyonga golf course, and he had such an influence during his time here that he's an honorary South Australian for sure."
The Rod Marsh Cup will be up for grabs for the first time over the coming four days having been unveiled at the WACA Ground today prior to play starting in the Marsh Sheffield Shield match between reigning champions WA and the Redbacks.
In addition to the jarrah and gold-plated trophy that carries Marsh's name and details of his playing achievements (including a then world record 355 Test dismissals), the former great's legacy will also continue through the establishment of the Perth-based Rod Marsh Wicketkeeping Academy.
The first specialist keeping school in Australia is a joint initiative between WA Cricket and the Western Australian Government which contributed $100,000 and has already attracted 10 male and female participants looking to hone their skills at senior level.
As WA Cricket Chief Executive Officer (and fellow keeper) Christina Matthews noted at today's launch, while Marsh remains best known for his acrobatic keeping and aggressive batting across 96 Tests and 92 one-day internationals, his post-playing contribution was felt worldwide.
"WA Cricket is incredibly proud to further cement Rod’s legacy in Australian cricket through the establishment of the Rod Marsh Cup," Matthews said today.
"Rod was one of WA and Australia’s finest wicketkeepers and a pioneering member of our exceptional talent pathway through his work off the field.
"It’s fitting that every time Western Australia and South Australia’s finest red ball teams meet on the pitch, they will now honour Rod Marsh’s extraordinary contribution to our state and game."
In helping launch the trophy today, rival WA and SA coaches Adam Voges and Jason Gillespie recounted their memories of Marsh during their respective terms at the Adelaide-based cricket academy.
Voges, who recalled Marsh's blunt but constructive critiques during an under-19 tour to England, went on to enjoy a 20-Test career that coincided with Marsh's tenure as chair of Australia's national men's team selection panel.
"We have wonderful contests against South Australia and, as Rod was, they're always tough but fair," Voges said.
Gillespie had experience with Marsh as both a mentor (at the Australian academy) and as a rival when the ex-Test vice-captain switched allegiances and acted as an England selector in the lead-up to the 2005 Ashes campaign in the UK which the home team famously won.
"He taught us to play the game the right way – be attacking, entertain but also being very respectful of the history and tradition of the game," Gillespie said today.
"He talked about celebrating tradition, but keep pushing it and drive the game forward to keep evolving it and that was something that really impacted me personally as a young player and I firmly believe the way he talked about cricket was the right way."
Marsh is also remembered as the men's team original 'song master', having first offered a rendition of 'Underneath the Southern Cross' in the Australia dressing room following the first Test of the 1974-75 Ashes series in Brisbane.
That verse, with the accompanying 'song master' title passed down from Marsh, to David Boon, then Ian Healy, Ricky Ponting, Justin Langer, Mike Hussey and now Nathan Lyon, is represented by the Southern Cross constellation engraved on the Cup that was unveiled today with the help of Marsh's widow, Ros.
The words to that ditty which is belted out after every men's team Test win and other notable occasions – such as World Cup triumphs – are immortalised in another memorial struck in the wake of Marsh's death, the memory garden at Adelaide Oval that was completed last year.
"He was a brilliant man, he always had time for you and if you ever had any issues and were trying to work something out, he was always a shoulder to lean on," Nielsen said of his keeping mentor whom he worked alongside as a scholarship coach at the academy while still playing for SA in the early 1990s.
"I reckon there's a lot of people around SA cricket who enjoyed having Rodney around just to bounce an idea off, and have him tell you 'it's not that difficult, just watch the f..in' ball and hit it'.
"He was always talking about what's best for the game of cricket, not just what's best for your team.
"That was something that certainly stuck with me, and certainly something you challenge yourself over on a regular basis.
"When things aren't quite going to plan from a team point of view, Bacchus (Marsh) would be saying 'just keep playing the game the right way and in the end the results will look after themselves', which is sage advice.
"It's lovely that this new trophy has got Rodney's name on it, it's undoubtedly something the players will really value, and it will be a nice bonus to have it sitting in our trophy cabinet at some stage."