‘Most of Australia hate me, hopefully I win them over’
POSITIVE thinking in the face of a nation full of critics and amid some personal tragedy sits at the core of Mitchell Marsh's Test resurgence.
The man his teammates call "Bison" said the urging of Australian coach Justin Langer to "go for it" at The Oval inspired his career-best figures of 4-35 and silenced the doubters who shouted loudly about his inclusion for the final Test.
Marsh, 27, has been a smiling, effervescent presence throughout the tour, with his mantra to "make everyone I meet feel better".
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The tables were turned when he was informed of his selection and Marsh said he was like a "kid at Christmas" after being told he would get to wear his baggy green again.
But his positive persona, and his all-round fitness, took a lot of work to achieve after he misfired during the home summer on-field and lost a close friend off it to compound his personal woe.
"Last year was a range of stuff. 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," Marsh revealed after his Test return.
"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.
"To have gone through that and got through the summer the way that I did, and finish for WA, I knew I still had love for the game. It was a tough summer last year, I tried to put it behind me as quickly as possible. Now, here I am."
Marsh revealed he did a lot of work with the team psychologist at Western Australia to find his way through his problems, which included losing the Test vice-captaincy and his Cricket Australia contract as he fell out of all three national sides.
He then turned his mind to his cricketing fitness and put in the hard work which even Test captain Tim Paine recognised.
Despite his career travails, Marsh remains happily self-deprecating, declaring he was well aware that "most of Australia hates me".
Few players have attracted as much scorn for getting national opportunities as Marsh, and maybe his brother, Shaun, and he conceded there was reason for it.
But he also said he'd worked so hard for this latest opportunity; changed his lifestyle and heeded a challenge from Langer to be fitter, that he hoped everyone could enjoy the reward.
"Most of Australia hate me,' he said, laughing.
"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.
"I love playing for Australia, I love wearing the baggy green cap.
"I keep trying, hopefully I win them over one day."