In the past day, I learned of the passing of two iconic Australian cricketers: Rodney Marsh (see here) and Shane Warne (see here), who gave so much to the game of cricket, including after they retired and right up to their deaths. They were masters of their craft, who positively influenced many fellow cricketers, and entertained many.
I have been checking out many tributes by famous players who played with and against them and there is no doubt that my admiration and sense of loss is widely shared. Ironically, in the case of Marsh, who was the first to die, Warne made this fitting tribute: “Sad to hear the news that Rod Marsh has passed. He was a legend of our great game & an inspiration to so many young boys & girls. Rod cared deeply about cricket & gave so much-especially to Australia & England players. Sending lots & lots of love to Ros & the family. RIP mate”. I daresay if the order were reversed Marsh could had said something equally as fitting concerning Warne. We are spoiled for choice but I particularly liked what Sachin Tendulkar said about Warne: “Will miss you Warnie. There was never a dull moment with you around, on or off the field. Will always treasure our on field duels & off field banter. You always had a special place for India & Indians had a special place for you”.
They played in two different eras – Marsh was 74 and Warne 52 when they died. Their retirements from international cricket coincided with that of other Australian legends – Lillie in the case of Marsh and McGrath in the case of Warne. They were major reasons why I was fascinated with the teams they represented, especially in Ashes series. They were characters, who played hard and fair, with passion and in the right “it is cricket” spirit, who had a monumental influence on the game and players coming into the game, as the tributes showed. My stand out memories are (Marsh) the £5 bet he placed on England to win a test match in 1981 when the odds were 500-1 and England were all but defeated and yet managed to win (see here). With Warne, it was his “ball of the century” that bowled Mike Gatting (in 1993, with Graham Gooch at the non striker end and Dickie Bird umpiring) – his first balled bowled in Ashes cricket, and the TMS commentary including the memorable purring of Trevor Bailey (see here). I witnessed live both events, and much more where these amazing characters / legends featured, who as much as any are reasons why I was and remain a cricket fan.
Thank you, Rod Marsh and Shane Warne, for all you have given us.