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Aussie cricket star Mitch Marsh has opened up about a devastating personal tragedy that left him reeling amid what should have been one of the proudest moments of his career.
Marsh was handed the Test vice-captaincy for a two-match series against Pakistan in the UAE in 2018.
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With Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft banned for their roles in the Cape Town ball tampering scandal, Marsh was handed a bigger leadership role in the team and asked to bat at No.4.
But just before the first Test the 29-year-old was rocked by the devastating news that a close friend had taken his own life, and his series suffered as a result.
“My good mate Jarvo, who was dating my cousin at the time, unfortunately got to a point in his life where that was the only option for him and it was extremely sad at the time,” Marsh told The Howie Games podcast this week.
“To get that news probably a week out from the first Test was very tough to deal with.
“I sort of felt guilty at that time being away from my family, being away from my cousin, and it was just unfathomable that he was gone, and I was away from home.
“If I’d had my time again, I definitely would have gone home, but I’d just been announced as vice-captain of the Test team; a huge honour.
“We had a reasonably young and different squad, so I really wanted to be there. And I was going to be batting at No. 4 that series, so in my head I was like, ‘It’s too good of an opportunity to give up’.
“I didn’t sleep for a whole week, going through something like that. Everyone deals with it differently, but I just couldn’t sleep, had a lot of thoughts running through my head.”
Marsh made 162 from 298 balls in a warm-up game against Pakistan A, but couldn't replicate that form in the Test series.
He made just 30 runs in two Tests, averaging 7.50 with a top score of 13 - a performance Marsh described as "horrific".
“I’ve just got this distinct memory of fielding at deep point on the day of Jarvo’s funeral, and just thinking, ‘Is this all worth it? What am I doing here?’” he said.
Mitch Marsh axed after two Tests as vice-captain
After just two matches as vice-captain, Marsh was axed from Australia's Test side for the home summer later that year.
“That sort of mentality sort of went throughout that whole summer. You come back into Australia and you’re under the pump,” he said.
“That was a very tough summer for me, both away from cricket dealing with something like that, and then on the field obviously I wasn’t performing, which made it tougher.”
Marsh has since returned to the national side in limited-overs cricket and will try to help Australia win the upcoming T20 World Cup.
He was named in Australia's squad off the back of stand-out performances in horror recent tours of Bangladesh and the West Indies without Australia's IPL stars.
The 29-year-old has also enjoyed a wonderful week off the field, getting engaged to partner Greta Mack.
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