Exultant Marsh the real deal with powerful maiden Test hundred

If not for the elation of the WACA crowd, Mitchell Marsh's roar might just about have been heard around a state.

The Australian all-rounder's maiden Test century elicited the most primal of celebrations on Saturday, throwing his powerful arms into the air with the force with which he had been battering the England attack and just about tackling his captain Steve Smith, himself nearing a double hundred, with a mighty man hug.

This was the hard-earned completion of an individual pursuit but also a family one: the Marsh family now has three Test centurions in its midst - father Geoff, and sons Shaun and Mitch. The pre-arranged family barbecue on Saturday night was poised to be one jubilant affair.

Marsh's recall to the squad and then the team for the third Test had been met a reaction bordering on ridicule. The only player in Australian cricket who has been maligned as much as Marsh in recent times has been his brother.

The selectors, enjoying a golden summer, wore heat for picking the 26-year-old but on Saturday a nation was made to understand just what they saw in him.

Marsh, always a good player off the front foot, had worked hard on his batting technique while recovering from a shoulder operation that until the last few weeks restricted him from bowling. His application paid off with a brutal and unbeaten innings of 181 in which he threatened to catch his partner in crime Smith after giving him a 116-run head start. On a breakout day he cruised past his father's highest score of 138 and when he resumes on Sunday he will need only two more runs to exceed his brother's best of 182.

"I've always said and the selectors have said and Steven has said that if I'm going to be playing cricket for Australia I've got to be in the six best batsmen...the bowling is a bonus," Marsh said. "I"ve just worked extremely hard on my batting. That's the one area that was going to keep me out of the Australian team."

It was a defining, career-turning outing for Marsh. If he made it look easy, bludgeoning 29 boundaries, many driven straight and through the covers, the eight-month build-up to his Test return was anything but.

"I certainly had moments throughout my shoulder rehab where I thought that maybe I wasn't going to get back," he said. "I had frustrating moments. But it's certainly all worth it now."

Marsh's stand with Smith tipped over 300 by the end of a day in which the pair batted almost throughout.

His father once enjoyed a similar, marathon partnership, batting through the first day of an Ashes Test at Trent Bridge with Mark Taylor during the 1989 series in England. That was a significant moment in a famous series victory. The combination with his captain at the WACA, which has driven Joe Root's men into the dust, looks like being another.

"Dad always had a photo of him and Mark Taylor walking off the ground with the scorecard in his bar so I grew up looking at that photo," Marsh said. "Today was just a great day for Australia."

He had waited so long for this that every moment counted. When he struck the square drive off Stuart Broad that would career him to three figures just before the tea break on the third day of the third Test, he didn't even bother running down the wicket.

The ball, he knew, was heading to the rope in front of the scoreboard hill from the moment it connected with his bat. He turned and for a split second it seemed as if he was actually chasing the ball - and certainly harder than anyone in the England field.

He pulled up after 10 metres or so, ripping off his helmet and swinging his bat in a windmill Pete Townsend would be proud of. On the Australian team balcony nearby Shaun applauded, hands over his head. Geoff, who features on a poster board with Mitchell and Shaun inside the Hay Street entrance to the ground, celebrated nearby, as did others in the family.

The WACA could barely have been farewelled more fittingly.

"It means a lot to make a hundred with my grandparents watching me at the WACA," Marsh said. "i don't really remember too much about the celebration. I'm certainly not a jumper. I don't have too many springs in my step, so I just went for the fist pump."

This story Exultant Marsh the real deal with powerful maiden Test hundred first appeared on The Age.