An inspired spell of bowling at The Oval from Mitch Marsh has put an end to his year of hell and presented Australia with a golden opportunity to take control of the fifth Ashes Test.
The WA allrounder, whose last Test appearance against India saw him booed by the MCG crowd, turned those jeers into cheers after finishing with career-best figures of 4-35 as England collapsed from 3-170 to 8-271 at stumps on day one.
The Boxing Day Test defeat was the start of a torrid run for the likeable 27-year-old that saw him lose the vice-captaincy, his place in all Australia’s teams and then his Cricket Australia central contract in April.
A lack of form, injury and death of one of his closest friends, also hit Marsh hard but on Thursday he enjoyed a day to remember in south London with a superb spell of bowling after tea where he got the ball to swing prodigiously.
Marsh has come to terms with not being a favourite with Australia cricket fans, but is hopeful his performance, following his surprise selection ahead of Travis Head, can silence some of his critics.
“Most of Australia hate me,” Marsh joked.
“Australians are passionate, they love their cricket, they want people to do well.
“There’s no doubt that I’ve had a lot of opportunities at Test level and I haven’t quite nailed it but hopefully they can respect me for the fact I keep coming back.
“Hopefully I win them over one day.”
Marsh has spent the whole Ashes series mixing drinks and biding his time on the sidelines on 12th man duties and admitted he was surprised to get the call-up into the side and determined to make the most of his opportunity.
“I certainly worked hard the last five months to get an opportunity again,” he said.
“When you have setbacks you always think the worst, I thought I might not play again after a summer like I had last year.
“There was a range of stuff there … a few things in my personal life I lost a close friend to suicide at the start of the summer.
“When things like that happen I didn’t handle it as well as I could have.
“It transitioned into my cricket at times as well. I understand everyone goes through tough periods in their life.
“I certainly didn’t handle that as best as I could.
“I just worked my bum off hoping to get another opportunity. Today was a really pleasing day.”