The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘My boys want to get sledged’
- Coach Geoff Marsh feels Zimbabwe will welcome Australia’s aggressive style

Perth: Zimbabwe coach Geoff Marsh said on Thursday that Australia’s sledging tactics were nothing new in the game and were simply part of the heat of battle.

The former World Cup-winning Australia coach said Zimbabwe would welcome Australia’s aggressive playing style when the game’s top-ranked team host Zimbabwe for a two-Test series in October.

“It will be tough for young players, but they will not take a backward step,” Marsh said while on holiday in his former hometown Perth.

“They will be in there competing hard, they want to get sledged by (Glenn) McGrath.

“They actually want to be in the hot seat and the firing line and do well, that is what they want and that is what they expect to come here to do.”

Marsh’s comments follow India batting great Sunil Gavaskar’s plea for “verbal bouncers” to be stopped to prevent damage to the image of the game. “There are perhaps not even 15 who indulge in this verbal abuse and intimidation,” had Gavaskar said on Tuesday while giving the Colin Cowdrey lecture at Lord’s.

“But unfortunately most of these belong to a champion side (Australia) and it makes others believe that it’s the only way to play winning cricket.”

International Cricket Council chief executive Malcolm Speed and his Cricket Australia counterpart James Sutherland were among those to criticise McGrath after his ill-tempered clash with West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan during Australia’s recent tour.

“I am sure when two boxers are locked together they will have a go at each other,” Marsh said.

“But unfortunately the Australian cricket team are so big that every move they make the cameras are there because nobody can write anything bad about them, because they keep on winning.

“They are always looking for an angle to get at the guys but I have played against those guys, and coached most of them, and I don’t see it as a problem.”

Back to the field

Meanwhile, Marsh will play against his own team when they launch their Australian tour with a one-day carnival match near here.

Marsh, a former Australia Test opener, vice-captain and coach, said on Thursday that he had accepted an invitation to play for an Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI against the tourists in a tour-opening one-day clash October 1.

The 50-overs game will be played at Lilac Hill Park, just outside Perth, on the banks of the Swan River, in Western Australia’s oldest grape-growing district, drawing a crowd of about 10,000.

It will be the first time a member of a visiting team has played for the Chairman’s XI.

“It’s a great honour to be asked to play in this match,” said Marsh. “I am looking forward to it.”

Marsh said in the festival match he would be playing alongside his 20-year-old son Shaun, a batsman who is making a mark in the Western Australian Sheffield Shield side.

Many experts have tipped a Test future for the talented left-hander.

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