Rod Marsh steps down as Australia chairman of selectors

Rod Marsh announced last month that he would step down in 2017 but left on Wednesday after Australia's fifth successive Test defeat.

By: Reuters | Melbourne | Published:November 16, 2016 2:18 pm
australia cricket, cricket australia, australia cricket team, rod marsh, rod marsh australia, aus vs sa, australia vs south africa, cricket news, cricket Australia have now lost five consecutive Tests and are starting at a series sweep against South Africa. (Source: AP)

Rod Marsh has resigned as Australia’s chairman of selectors in the wake of the Test team’s 2-0 series loss to South Africa, having been roundly criticised for some of the panel’s decisions in recent months.

The former Test wicketkeeper announced a month ago that he would step down in mid-2017 but said on Wednesday he would vacate the role immediately as the fall-out from Australia’s fifth successive Test defeat continued.

“This is my own decision and no-one within Cricket Australia has pressured me or even suggested that I should do this,” Marsh said in a media release.

“Clearly, though, it is time for some fresh thinking, just as it is for our Test team to welcome some new faces as we build for the future.”

Marsh, along with fellow selectors Mark Waugh, Trevor Hohns and Darren Lehmann, also Australia’s head coach, had been condemned for a number of selection issues this year.

After two poor Tests on the Sri Lanka tour, the selectors promptly dumped opening batsman Joe Burns and number three Usman Khawaja, despite the pair dominating during the previous home summer.

A disaffected Khawaja publicly slammed the panel as “fickle” for making he and Burns “scapegoats” for the wider team’s struggles during the 3-0 series whitewash.

Frontline bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were rested for the recent one-day international series away to South Africa and the under-strength Australian squad were white-washed 5-0.

Proteas captain Faf du Plessis said the result gave his team a huge confidence boost ahead of the Test series and felt the bowlers’ omission was a mistake on Australia’s part.

The selectors were again under the microscope for picking a 12-man squad to cover the first two Tests against South Africa, which was to have remained untouched regardless of the team’s performance in the series-opener in Perth.

Marsh raised eyebrows when he said uncapped paceman Joe Mennie’s inclusion at the expense of the more experienced and in-form seamer Jackson Bird was down to his superior batting.

After Australia’s 177-run thrashing in Perth, the panel was further embarrassed when Waugh publicly assured struggling all-rounder Mitchell Marsh of his spot in the second Test in Hobart but later appeared to row back on the guarantee.

Marsh was dumped and his replacement Callum Ferguson, an uncapped middle order batsman, ran himself out for three in the first innings in Hobart and was out for one in the second.

The other changes for Hobart also failed, with Mennie taking 1-85 in a tepid debut and the reinstated Burns scoring one run from his two innings.

Australia captain Steve Smith declined to criticise the panel after the Hobart loss on Tuesday but confirmed he and Lehmann were not getting the team they wanted.

Marsh’s resignation was announced only hours after Cricket Australia (CA) boss James Sutherland backed the 59-year-old to stay on board until his planned departure.

CA said they would hold an extraordinary meeting later on Wednesday to appoint an interim replacement for Marsh.

Former Australia captain Steve Waugh and paceman Jason Gillespie are likely to be among the candidates, having both expressed an interest in succeeding him last month.