This column originally appeared in The West Australian and is available online at thewest.com.au.
I was nine years old and my heart was pounding.
I’d rushed out of the school gates as quickly as I could and the car raced in the same fashion.
It was 2001 and we were on our way to the WACA Ground to watch Shaun make his first-class debut for WA against South Australia.
He made 12 — it was the best 12 I had ever seen in my life.
I was still very young at the tail end of Dad’s career and the memories I have of that time were never a catalyst for my own career. Instead, it was that moment of Shaun’s that ignited in me a dream to one day represent my State, to proudly stand where my brother stood — on the hallowed surface of the WACA Ground.
I received my baggy yellow eight years later as a 17-year-old, presented to me by Kim Hughes.
I was one of the State’s youngest debutants, receiving the honour from one of the country’s youngest captains.
WA cricket is engrained in me. It is part of who I am.
To represent my State is an honour, but to lead it is beyond superlatives and the role I fill is one vacated by a man I hold in the highest regard.
Adam Voges inspired not only me, but an entire generation of WA cricketers, with his courage, humility, selfless drive and his refusal to ever give up.
Other captains have influenced me — Michael Clarke with his ability to get the best out of his players, Steve Smith with his insatiable work ethic and will to succeed — but Voges stands out among them.
What he brought to WA cricket in many ways is irreplaceable.
I won’t be Adam Voges, I will be Mitch Marsh, but if I can bring even the slightest sense of heart and soul that he engrained in WA cricket, I will take great pride in that.
That was my message when I addressed the captaincy selection panel.
I sat across from our chief executive Christina Matthews, coach Justin Langer, chair Ken Michael and psychologist Matt Burgin before I walked to the whiteboard.
I wrote one word: GRIT.
Our team lives by five values — speak honestly, work hard, respect the past, look after your mates and celebrate success — and I will additionally hold myself to the following: Growth, Resilience, Integrity, Trust.
I must grow, because a captain never stops learning, but I must also ensure my team and its players continue to grow.
I will ensure I and we remain resilient, as there will be tough moments throughout the years and that goes for on and off the field, because life doesn’t stop at the boundary rope.
I will hold myself responsible for upholding the integrity of WA cricket, an integrity that everyone involved in the game in this State has worked tirelessly to build over the past five years in a period that I feel, in a lot of ways, reflects my own journey of change.
And I will respect the trust that has been placed in me, not just by the people in that boardroom, but the playing group, the public and our devoted fans and members.
And I want them to know that the pounding heart of a nine-year-old has never faded.
It has never stopped beating with passion for the greatest State in the world