He has Australia’s most successful vice-captain in his corner and Mitchell Marsh believes he “absolutely” has the skills required to be Tim Paine’s deputy in the post ball-tampering era.
Almost four months since Steve Smith and David Warner were stripped of their leadership roles, Australia are yet to announce Paine’s Test vice-captain, while the post of long-term ODI skipper is also vacant.
Marsh, who was named skipper of Western Australia last year, concedes he’s still green when it comes to captaincy, but the leadership vacuum created by the absence of Smith and Warner means younger players simply have to step up in their absence.
And with former Test and ODI vice-captain Adam Gilchrist behind him, the allrounder is among the frontrunners to be Paine’s right-hand man.
“I’m still young when it comes to my leadership … but where we’re at at the moment, there’s going to be a few young leaders,” Marsh, who will get a chance to further his captaincy credentials as skipper on Australia A’s tour of India in September, told cricket.com.au.
“Captaining the Australia A series in India, I don’t see it as a dress rehearsal for me, but I see it as a great opportunity to captain in those conditions.
“I’ve captained in Australia and at the WACA, where … fast bowlers are used a lot more, so they’re different conditions. So this is an opportunity to work on my captaincy around spin, setting fields around the bat and those sort of things.
“I’ll work as much with the spinners and learn as much as I can so I can be the best captain I can be for WA and be the best leader I can be in Australian cricket.”
Marsh will likely be challenged for the vice-captaincy role by experienced bowlers like Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon, while Pat Cummins played down talk of him taking the role in an interview with cricket.com.au in May.
Gilchrist, who played almost 100 Tests but only six as captain, built a reputation as a brilliant deputy under Steve Waugh and then Ricky Ponting during Australia’s period of unparalleled success in the early 2000s.
The wicketkeeper-batsman was named Waugh’s Test deputy less than 12 months after making his debut and Australia lost just eight Tests out 69 when Gilchrist had the ‘vc’ next to his name.
Gilchrist always maintained he was more comfortable in the role of second-in-command rather than skipper, while former captain Michael Clarke acknowledged in his 2016 autobiography that “vice-captaincy wasn’t a role that suited me well”.
Marsh agrees the task of deputy differs to that of full-time captain, but he believes he can adapt if given the role under Paine.
“I think as a vice-captain you’ve got to be the best person you can be for your skipper, give them your full support and be a shoulder to lean on,” he said.
“And around the group, (you should) be the same person. That’s one thing I’ve learned about leadership is to not change the reason you get appointed in the first place. You’ve become a leader because of the person you are, so I won’t change much.
“If those things come, they come. But I’m not focused on if I’m going to have a vice-captain next to my name.”
Marsh also put his hand up to lead Australia’s beleaguered one-day side as they prepare for their World Cup defence in the UK next year.
Paine’s appointment as ODI skipper for the recent tour of England came with a rider that it wasn’t a permanent one, and the Tasmanian’s poor series with the bat in the UK means he appears unlikely to take the role full-time.
T20 skipper Aaron Finch is among the frontrunners and received the backing of coach Justin Langer earlier this month, while Marsh says he would jump at the chance to captain the side.
“Absolutely, you’d be silly not too,” Marsh, who missed the UK tour due to injury, said.
“Finchy has done a great job with the T20s and we don’t know what’s going to happen with Painey. If the opportunity arose, I’d certainly grab it.”
The Test vice-captain is expected to be announced in September ahead of the Test tour of the UAE, while the ODI team is next in action for the home series against South Africa in November.
Australia A Tour of India
Australia A four-day squad: Mitchell Marsh (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Michael Neser, Joel Paris, Kurtis Patterson, Matthew Renshaw, Mitch Swepson, Chris Tremain
Australia A one-day squad: Travis Head (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Joel Paris, Matthew Renshaw, Jhye Richardson, D’Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Mitch Swepson, Chris Tremain, Jack Wildermuth
One-day fixtures in Vijayawada
17 August v India A
19 August v South Africa A
23 August v India A
25 August v South Africa A
29 August – Tri-Series Final
Four-day fixtures in Vizag
2 – 5 September v India A
8 – 11 September v India A