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Friday, 31 May, 2002, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
Devon built for speed
Mandela called Malcolm the 'Black Destroyer'
Proud moment: Meeting Nelson Mandela

Ray Illingworth may not agree but Devon Malcolm is a player who surely has made the absolute most of his ability.

Taking his 1,000th first-class wicket is fitting reward for a player who has given 18 years of loyal service to the English game with three separate counties.

Known to Nelson Mandela as 'the Black Destroyer', Malcolm is still destroying county batsmen, even though his 40th birthday is less than a year away.

"I still love the game and I still enjoy playing" was Malcolm's explanation for joining Leicestershire last year following his departure from Midlands rivals Northants.

"I spent 14 years at Derbyshire and when I left them in 1998 to join Northamptonshire, I honestly thought that's where I'd end my career.

Yorkshire's Darren Lehmann takes evasive action
Malcolm remains a handful for batsmen

"But I'm still ambitious. I've won just two trophies, both limited overs competitions, in my career and I want to collect more silverware, especially the Championship."

At an age when most players might have been ready to put their feet up, Malcolm continued to pound in with his usual enthusiasm.

His efforts brought him 68 wickets in 2001 and he remains among the quickest bowlers on the county scene.

Exactly how fast Malcolm was in his prime will never be known?

"The technology didn't really exist until recently, and I've never been measured," he said.

When I started out with Derbyshire they said you will be lucky to get a benefit - which is usually about 10 years - out of this game
Devon Malcolm

Born in Jamaica, Malcolm came to England to join his father in 1979 and began playing Yorkshire League cricket in Sheffield.

His raw pace brought him to the attention of Derbyshire officials and he made his debut against Surrey at Chesterfield in May 1984.

Wicket-keeper Jack Richards was his first - and only victim - in the game, caught for 109 by Kim Barnett, another of county cricket's stalwarts, who is still playing for Gloucestershire even though he is into his 40s.

Malcolm was awarded his county cap until 1989 and a lack of genuinely quick bowlers resulted in him being included in England's squad for the winter tour to the West Indies.

Malcolm in the nets in South Africa
Illingworth was not a Malcolm fan

He did not disgrace himself, taking 19 wickets in four Tests, and went on 128 in total in 40 appearances.

His most memorable performance came in 1994 when he took nine for 57 in South Africa's second innings at The Oval as England won by eight wickets.

But it was in in South Africa two years later that his career reached its lowest ebb when he had a public falling out with then England manager Illingworth.

He bounced back by playing four Ashes Tests against Australia in 1997, but that was his swansong in an England shirt.

Yorkshire batsman Vic Craven was only three when Malcolm made his first-class debut.

In becoming Malcolm's 1,000th victim he went the same way as so many before him - with a rattling of stumps.

"Enthusiasm and my lifestyle have helped me. It started on my first England tour in 1989 - I go to what I thought was a good level of fitness, and that has been my minimum standard ever since.

"That is where I got my discipline, and I got into a situation where, in my pomp, I think I must have been pretty quick," he explained.

Malcolm claimed last summer that he was now relying on "cunning and experience" for his wickets - but it is speed which still gives him the real thrill.

See also:

31 May 02 | Counties
31 May 02 | Leicestershire
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