Shane Warne and Rod Marsh: 2 Australian Cricket Legends

Commentary Australian cricket unexpectedly lost two legends on the same day this week: Victorian leg-spinner Shane “Warnie” Warne and West Australian wicketkeeper Rod “Iron Gloves” Marsh. Whilst Marsh became famous for his acrobatic catching of many balls edged by batsmen facing the devastating pace bowling of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson in the 1970s and 1980s, Warne was known for his match-turning ability as a leg-spinner, his cricketing scandals, and for his celebrity lifestyle off the pitch. Their parallels and contrasts in their lives reflected the gradual transition of the gentlemanly game of cricket from a popular sport into its players becoming brand ambassadors. At the time of his retirement, Rod Marsh held the world record for the most dismissals by a wicketkeeper (over 350). Similarly, Warne ended his career with over 700 test wickets and nearly 300 in one-day international matches. Whilst Marsh transitioned into sports administration, selecting players for both the Australian and English teams, Warne dated English super-model Liz Hurley and appeared on popular television shows such as Neighbours, I’m a Celebrity, and Kath and Kim, in the finale of which famously he portrayed a Shane Warne impersonator “Wayne” who married Magda Szubanski’s besotted Sharon Strzelecki. Despite each having a slow start to their national cricketing careers (initially selected for his batting abilities, Marsh dropped several catches behind the stumps whilst Warne’s 1992 debut against India saw him take only a single wicket and endure being belted for 150 runs), their drive and determination to master wicket-keeping and leg-spin led to incredible success on the field. In the 1970s, the saying “caught Marsh, bowled Lillee” was the obituary for many a world-class batsman’s innings. In 1977, Marsh also became the first Australian wicketkeeper to score a century in a test match against England. Australian cricket legends Rod Marsh and Dennis Lillee are seen during day three of the Fourth Test Match in the 2017/18 Ashes series between Australia and England at Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia on Dec. 28, 2017. (Michael Dodge/Getty Images) Warne’s first-ball dismissal of Mike Gatting in the 1993 Ashes first test in England has been often called the “Ball of the Century”. He was renowned for his ability to turn around the fortunes of the Australian cricket team, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Such was his skill as a leg-spinner that he induced fear in batsmen usually reserved only for the most-lethal of fast bowlers, such as Lillee. Both Marsh and Warne were stockily built, and Marsh worked hard to keep his weight down. However, after gaining significant weight during a gap year playing English county cricket, Warne loved baked beans, happily over-eating and smoking throughout his playing career. In later life, Warne lost significant weight and posted shirtless photographs of a more chiselled physique to online dating apps. In the mid-2000s, a naturally balding Warne promoted a hair-replacement therapy in television advertisements which were later banned as misleading by the Australian Advertising Standards Authority. Both Marsh and Warne participated in the gradual speeding up of the game of cricket—Marsh from five-day tests to fifty-over one-day matches, and Warne from one-dayers to Twenty20 matches. Poorly paid in the 1970s (often having to take unpaid leave from his day job as a schoolteacher to represent his country), Marsh gave up the chance to captain Australia when he controversially joined Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket competition out of loyalty to his fellow players. In 2008, Warne captained and coached the Rajasthan Royals to victory in the first season of the highly paid Indian Premier League. However, Warne’s scandals prevented him from an appointment to Australia’s test captaincy. Marsh’s ethics led him to re-call batsmen who had been incorrectly given out, and to refuse to sign a cricket bat which a scandal-tainted New Zealand cricketer had also signed. Warne scandalised Australian cricket several times, including when it was revealed that he had provided pitch condition information to a Sri Lankan bookmaker and when he was banned from Australian cricket for 12 months after testing positive for a banned diuretic, which Warne infamously blamed on blood pressure tablets given to him by his mother. Marsh remained married to Roslyn for over 50 years, having three sons: Paul, Jamie, and Dan—two of whom followed him into cricket. Sex scandals led to Warne’s divorce from Simone Callahan, with whom he had three children: Brooke, Jackson, and Summer. Marsh and Warne both worked as television cricket commentators, with Marsh being sacked by Kerry Packer after criticising the one-day version of the game. Warne was sacked from the Channel Nine commentary team after his sex scandals, and again found controversy in 2021 after a “hot-mic” moment when an expletive-laden rant about Mar

Shane Warne and Rod Marsh: 2 Australian Cricket Legends

Commentary

Australian cricket unexpectedly lost two legends on the same day this week: Victorian leg-spinner Shane “Warnie” Warne and West Australian wicketkeeper Rod “Iron Gloves” Marsh.

Whilst Marsh became famous for his acrobatic catching of many balls edged by batsmen facing the devastating pace bowling of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson in the 1970s and 1980s, Warne was known for his match-turning ability as a leg-spinner, his cricketing scandals, and for his celebrity lifestyle off the pitch.

Their parallels and contrasts in their lives reflected the gradual transition of the gentlemanly game of cricket from a popular sport into its players becoming brand ambassadors.

At the time of his retirement, Rod Marsh held the world record for the most dismissals by a wicketkeeper (over 350). Similarly, Warne ended his career with over 700 test wickets and nearly 300 in one-day international matches.

Whilst Marsh transitioned into sports administration, selecting players for both the Australian and English teams, Warne dated English super-model Liz Hurley and appeared on popular television shows such as Neighbours, I’m a Celebrity, and Kath and Kim, in the finale of which famously he portrayed a Shane Warne impersonator “Wayne” who married Magda Szubanski’s besotted Sharon Strzelecki.

Despite each having a slow start to their national cricketing careers (initially selected for his batting abilities, Marsh dropped several catches behind the stumps whilst Warne’s 1992 debut against India saw him take only a single wicket and endure being belted for 150 runs), their drive and determination to master wicket-keeping and leg-spin led to incredible success on the field.

In the 1970s, the saying “caught Marsh, bowled Lillee” was the obituary for many a world-class batsman’s innings. In 1977, Marsh also became the first Australian wicketkeeper to score a century in a test match against England.

Epoch Times Photo
Australian cricket legends Rod Marsh and Dennis Lillee are seen during day three of the Fourth Test Match in the 2017/18 Ashes series between Australia and England at Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia on Dec. 28, 2017. (Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Warne’s first-ball dismissal of Mike Gatting in the 1993 Ashes first test in England has been often called the “Ball of the Century”. He was renowned for his ability to turn around the fortunes of the Australian cricket team, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Such was his skill as a leg-spinner that he induced fear in batsmen usually reserved only for the most-lethal of fast bowlers, such as Lillee.

Both Marsh and Warne were stockily built, and Marsh worked hard to keep his weight down. However, after gaining significant weight during a gap year playing English county cricket, Warne loved baked beans, happily over-eating and smoking throughout his playing career.

In later life, Warne lost significant weight and posted shirtless photographs of a more chiselled physique to online dating apps. In the mid-2000s, a naturally balding Warne promoted a hair-replacement therapy in television advertisements which were later banned as misleading by the Australian Advertising Standards Authority.

Both Marsh and Warne participated in the gradual speeding up of the game of cricket—Marsh from five-day tests to fifty-over one-day matches, and Warne from one-dayers to Twenty20 matches.

Poorly paid in the 1970s (often having to take unpaid leave from his day job as a schoolteacher to represent his country), Marsh gave up the chance to captain Australia when he controversially joined Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket competition out of loyalty to his fellow players.

In 2008, Warne captained and coached the Rajasthan Royals to victory in the first season of the highly paid Indian Premier League. However, Warne’s scandals prevented him from an appointment to Australia’s test captaincy.

Marsh’s ethics led him to re-call batsmen who had been incorrectly given out, and to refuse to sign a cricket bat which a scandal-tainted New Zealand cricketer had also signed.

Warne scandalised Australian cricket several times, including when it was revealed that he had provided pitch condition information to a Sri Lankan bookmaker and when he was banned from Australian cricket for 12 months after testing positive for a banned diuretic, which Warne infamously blamed on blood pressure tablets given to him by his mother.

Marsh remained married to Roslyn for over 50 years, having three sons: Paul, Jamie, and Dan—two of whom followed him into cricket. Sex scandals led to Warne’s divorce from Simone Callahan, with whom he had three children: Brooke, Jackson, and Summer.

Marsh and Warne both worked as television cricket commentators, with Marsh being sacked by Kerry Packer after criticising the one-day version of the game. Warne was sacked from the Channel Nine commentary team after his sex scandals, and again found controversy in 2021 after a “hot-mic” moment when an expletive-laden rant about Marcus Labuschagne unintentionally went to air on the streaming service, Kayo.

Epoch Times Photo
Fans lay floral tributes at the base of the Shane Warne statue outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia on March 5, 2022. (Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

After their playing days were over, Marsh and Warne sought to help the less fortunate. Marsh was willing to help rejuvenate the fortunes of his former enemy, English cricket, in the hopes of improving the overall strength of the sport. In the aftermath of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, Warne worked tirelessly to raise millions of dollars in charity to help reconstruct parts of Sri Lanka.

Marsh was appointed as a member of the Order of the British Empire in 1982 and inducted into the Sports Australian Hall of Fame in 1985. The Australian Cricket Hall of Fame inducted Marsh in 2005 and Warne in 2013. Wisden recognised Marsh as its Cricketer of the Year in 1982 and Warne in 1994. In their respective honours, the Lillee-Marsh stand at the WACA was named in 1988, and the Great Southern stand at the MCG will be renamed the S.K. Warne stand in 2022.

Marsh suffered a heart attack just after he had flown into Bundaberg, Queensland for a charity cricket event, passing away eight days later in hospital in Adelaide.

Warne reportedly had spent less than 24 hours at his villa in Thailand when he suffered a heart attack after completing a 14-day liquid-only weight-loss diet. Although the results of an autopsy are yet to be released, a preliminary toxicology report did not indicate the presence of any illicit drugs in Warne’s bloodstream.

The lives of these cricketers reveal the existence of a rare talent that will ensure their legacy as legends in Australian sports history.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Gabriël A. Moens AM is an emeritus professor of law at the University of Queensland, and served as pro vice-chancellor and dean at Murdoch University. In 2003, Moens was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal by the prime minister for services to education. He has taught extensively across Australia, Asia, Europe, and the United States. Moens has recently published two novels “A Twisted Choice” (Boolarong Press, 2020) and “The Coincidence” (Connor Court Publishing, 2021).


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John Selby is a cybersecurity expert and an avid Australian cricket fan regularly dining on a full course of Warne's bowling and Marsh's wicketkeeping.