Dennis Lillee: “It’s taken me days to be able to write my thoughts down about this amazing bloke. I don’t want to talk about his cricket ability because that’s been very well documented – it’s the person Rod Marsh that I loved”

Last Updated: 17/03/22 9:41am

Rod Marsh's funeral service was held at the Adelaide Oval

Rod Marsh’s funeral service was held at the Adelaide Oval

Dennis Lillee led the tributes at a funeral service for his friend and former Australian team-mate Rod Marsh at the Adelaide Oval.

Pace bowler Lillee formed a prolonged and prolific wicket-taking partnership with the late Australian cricket great.

Marsh died at the age of 74. He had had been in critical condition after falling ill in Bundaberg, Queensland, before passing away in Adelaide.

Following the service for Marsh, which took place at the Adelaide Oval, Marsh’s coffin was taken on a final circuit of the pitch at Adelaide Oval, with past cricketers forming a guard of honour.

Lillee attended Thursday’s service at the stadium’s William Magarey Room, as did former national captains Ian Chappell and Allan Border, pace great Jeff Thomson and former Test player David Boon. Other more recent ex-Test players included Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden and Ian Healy.

Together Lillee and Marsh formed a partnership so great that the phrase: “Caught Marsh, bowled Lillee,” became synonymous with their era of Test cricket.

The duo combined together a record 95 times to dismiss opposition batters in Test cricket, however Lilee wanted to mark Marsh the person during the service.

“I still can’t believe that our mate, and a mate to many isn’t around anymore,” Lillee said.

“It’s taken me days to be able to write my thoughts down about this amazing bloke. I don’t want to talk about his cricket ability because that’s been very well documented – it’s the person Rod Marsh that I loved.

“It’s something that grew over time, even after our careers were finished.”

Lillee, who made his test debut in the same Ashes series as Marsh, told around 800 people in attendance that his friendship with the wicketkeeper did not get off to the best start.

“One day after a day’s play, him, unusually with a beer in his hand and me pouring a full-strength soft drink ready to chat, he said to me, ‘I gotta tell you, I don’t trust you’,” Lillee said to laughter.

“Gradually our friendship blossomed. I miss my mate and will keep remembering the good times. He was a one-off.”

Marsh left behind his wife, Ros, and sons Paul, Dan and Jamie.

Marsh and Lillee made their test debuts in the 1970-71 Ashes series against England and retired after a test against Pakistan in 1984. Both finished with 355 dismissals, records at the time for a wicketkeeper and for a fast bowler.

Marsh played in the first one-day international in 1970 and retired from top-level cricket after his 92nd ODI, against the West Indies in February 1984.

A left-handed batter, he was the first Australian wicketkeeper to score a century in test cricket against Pakistan at Adelaide in 1972 and finished his career with three. He later led the national cricket academies in Australia and in England and was the inaugural head of the International Cricket Council’s world coaching academy in Dubai.

In 2014, he was appointed as Australia’s chairman of selectors and held the position for two years.

His older brother Graham, a retired professional golfer who won the 1977 Heritage Classic on the US PGA Tour, recalled their early days in Western Australia state playing cricket with their father.

“Rod couldn’t get enough, throwing himself at any ball that came near him, even one directed at me he’d grab right from under my nose,” Graham Marsh said.

“I always wanted to be on his team and he’d do anything to protect his family, he said. They say younger brothers often walk in the shadow of their older brothers but baby brother, it’s been an honour to walk in your shadow.”