January 27 might not be a date of particular significance for many but for some n players it could be life-changing. It marks the beginning of a two-day Indian Premier League “mega” auction in Bengaluru.
Mega because most players will be thrust back into the draft with franchises only able to retain three stars for this year’s tournament and nominate a further two who they can match offers for. And, just as importantly, because of the extra cash to be thrown around as a result of the competition’s new $3.2 billion, five-year television deal.
With teams having dramatically increased budgets, the kind of eye-watering sums paid for foreigners in previous years – England’s Ashes outcast Ben Stokes went for $2.8m in 2017 – are tipped to swell even further.
However, while the likes of David Warner, who has become the most prolific run-scorer in the IPL, have big paydays coming, Mitchell Marsh’s name will be notably missing from the run sheet on auction day.
In 2016 Marsh was picked up for $1m, told about the windfall by a member of the crowd while waiting to bat for in a one-day international against New Zealand in Wellington.
With other ambitions in mind, though, the recalled Test all-rounder is instead heading to play for Surrey in England’s County Championship in the n off-season.
A revitalised Marsh backed up his maiden Test hundred in Perth with a match-saving second innings at the MCG and with a World Cup and an Ashes series on the calendar in England next year he wants to work further on his game in the northern hemisphere.
“It was a fairly big decision from a money point of view but my ultimate goal is to play Test match cricket for ,” Marsh said on Monday.
“You never really know…I might not have been picked up in the IPL auction. That’s the lure of the IPL – the money and playing in India. But I made the decision based on my cricket.
“When I made that decision I didn’t really think i was going to be back there this quickly. But I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to play 14 red-ball games over there, if I can.
“We’ve got a lot of cricket coming up in England over the next few years and i want to give myself the best opportunity to be over there and get used to the conditions.”
Marsh, 26, made centuries in both of ‘s warm-up games on the last Ashes tour in 2015 and replaced Shane Watson for the second Test at Lord’s. Like most others, though, he didn’t fare well against the moving ball.
He hopes the financial sacrifice will pay dividends in mid-2019 when the n team will spend four months in England.
“I spoke to ‘Boof’ [Darren Lehmann] about it, I spoke to [Western coach] Justin Langer about it, and obviously my old man,” Marsh said.
“They all said it was a good idea but ultimately the decision was mine and I’m very happy with it.
“Playing in their conditions for a whole summer I’ll get flat wickets, I’ll get wickets that seam and swing. Hopefully I’ll be able to come up with a game plan to deal with that.”
At Surrey he will link up with former n batting coach Michael Di Venuto, who is the county’s head coach, as well as brothers Tom and Sam Curran, who he became close to as a boy when their father Kevin was Geoff Marsh’s assistant coach with Zimbabwe.
The Currans even moved in with Geoff Marsh after they were kicked off their farm outside Harare by thugs of Robert Mugabe. The two families have formed such a bond that Tom’s mother stayed with the Marshes when the England squad were in Perth before the 22-year-old made his Test debut in Melbourne last week.
“We’re great family friends and I’m looking forward to playing with them,” Marsh said.