Mitch Marsh has been sidelined from the Test side since breaking his hand. (AAP: Richard Wainwright)
When Mitch Marsh punched a dressing room wall at the WACA Ground, derailing his Test cricket career, it was a brain explosion borne out of a building mass of tension.
His injuries, which included a broken bone and several torn ligaments in his right wrist, are a daily reminder of what happens when you fail to keep your cool under pressure.
The split-second decision to punch the wall came after he was dismissed early on the final day of a Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania on 53, adding just two runs after posting a half-century the previous day.
Marsh broke his right hand and tore several tore ligaments in his wrist when he punched a dressing room wall. (ABC News: Tom Wildie)
“We had to bat out the day, there was going to be no result other than Tasmania winning if we didn’t bat well,” Marsh recalled.
“I thought it was really important as captain, on day like that, to stand up and steer the ship into safe waters.
“I had been feeling in really good form, and haven’t been able to put big scores on the board, so it was extremely frustrating to get out when I did, and here I am.”
Marsh says he was feeling a build-up of pressure before his moment of madness. (ABC News: Tom Wildie)
But he said his extreme reaction was also an indication of the expectation Marsh was feeling to deliver Western Australia its first Sheffield Shield title since 1999.
“I want Western Australia to have success,” he said.
“We haven’t won a shield in 20 years. That weighs down on me, certainly as captain, because I want us to do well.
“And I feel like we’ve got such a great team at the moment, and the potential’s there for us to do something special.”
A big price for a moment of madness
Marsh has been sidelined since early October due to his injuries and had to start wearing an arm brace again as he continues his recovery.
By the time he returns to cricket, the Big Bash will have begun, WA will have played in the one-day cup final against Queensland and Australia will be playing the Boxing Day Test match against New Zealand.
Mitch Marsh has been in and out of the Test side in an inconsistent career. (AP: Kirsty Wigglesworth)
It’s a big price to pay for a moment of madness, but it is a moment which illustrated just how much pressure the 28-year-old was feeling.
“It’s the pressure you put on yourself, as athletes, as a professional cricketer. You work extremely hard to make big runs and everything you do is to make sure you’re playing well for the team,” Marsh said.
“When that doesn’t happen, frustration occurs.
“I want to win games for Western Australia, I want to make runs for Western Australia, I want to be playing for Australia at the same time. There’s a lot of things that go into frustration building up.
“There’s never a good time to get injured, but I guess from where I was at coming off a really good last Test match for Australia, and the opportunity to have a couple of games before the first Test match [against Pakistan] to sort of prove myself again, the timing was horrific.”
Mitch Marsh celebrates a wicket during the Ashes series in England earlier this year. (AP: Kirsty Wigglesworth)
The son of legendary opener Geoff Marsh has spent his career under the microscope, quick to be skewered by the cricketing public when things aren’t going well.
At times, he has appeared on the brink of cementing a spot in the national side — think of his two centuries against England in the 2017 Ashes in Australia or his seven wickets against the same opposition at The Oval just months ago — but he has too often followed up these performances with disappointing displays.
Letting shots from trolls go through to the keeper
Since his last Test half-century, Marsh has made 170 runs in 15 innings at an average of just 11, while prior to his seven wickets against England, he had claimed just six wickets in 11 matches for Australia.
The public has made their feelings known about his presence in the national side, booing the all-rounder at the MCG during last year’s Boxing Day Test against India.
Mitch Marsh was booed by disgruntled Australian fans during the Boxing Day Test match against India at the MCG. (AAP: Hamish Blair)
They have also taken to social media to express their dissatisfaction with his performances, something that took a toll on Marsh early in his career.
“I was thinking about it all the time and I probably stopped enjoying the game of cricket,” he said.
“I was more worried about what people thought of me. If I failed, what are people going to think of me?
“I probably can’t repeat the things people say to me on social media, it can get pretty heavy at times.
“As a young kid it used to affect me a fair bit … you want to be loved by everyone, especially playing cricket for Australia, in such a privileged position, you want to feel loved.
“But in professional sport, people have opinions and are entitled to their opinions. I’ve had a fair bit of opportunity at Test cricket and haven’t quite nailed it, and that divides opinion.”
The abuse drove Marsh off the social media platform Twitter, a decision he doesn’t regret.
“Most of the time, all I saw was people having a go at you, so I thought, ‘well I don’t need this in my life’,” he said.