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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 12:23 GMT 13:23 UK
Farewell to the amiable assassin
By Tom Fordyce

Devon Malcolm in profile
Malcolm enjoyed 19 seasons of first-class frolics
The man who once famously told the South Africans, "You guys are history," is now history himself - but few cricket fans will forget Devon Malcolm in a hurry.

Malcolm, who announced his retirement on Friday, was never your usual sort of cricketer.

Great fast bowlers seldom charge in to the crease wearing thick glasses, or indeed carry on playing first-class cricket until 40 years of age.

But things were always different with Devon, from the moment he made his Test debut in August 1989 and was clouted round the park in a manner that few would have recovered from.

At the end of that first day's play at Trent Bridge, Alan Border's rampant Australians had reached 301-0, hardly the start the new paceman had hoped for.

Yet, with the sunny optimism that was his trademark, Malcolm regarded his final figures of 1-166 as far from calamitous.

He was convinced he had Geoff Marsh plumb lbw at the start of play - and who knows what would have happened then?

King Viv dethroned

Better was to come.

Malcolm was picked for the subsequent tour of the West Indies and, after listening to the advice of his Derbyshire county colleague Michael Holding, came into the first Test determined to silence the critics who laughed at his clumsiness and sometimes wayward deliveries.

England were expected to be tonked. With Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes putting on an unbeaten half-century opening partnership on the first morning, forecasts of another blackwash appeared correct.

Then Greenidge turned one off his legs down to Malcolm at long leg, saw the fielder fumble it and set off for a second run.

Devon Malcolm is bowled
Devon's explosive batting style was very much his own

To the amazement of all present, Malcolm seized his mis-field, hurled an inch-perfect throw in to wicketkeeper Jack Russell and ran Greenidge out.

England never looked back. With Malcolm trapping Viv Richards lbw and then ripping through the Windies second innings with four more wickets, including the scalps of both openers and Richards clean-bowled, England roared to a famous nine-wicket victory.

Richards was not the only West Indian batting legend to be troubled by Malcolm's pace.

At Sabina Park in 1994 Brian Lara, in the middle of a record-breaking season, was so perturbed by his inability to combat Malcolm that he called for eye-drops.

Later that year came Malcolm's greatest performance, when he took 9-57 against South Africa at the Oval and bowled with enough venom and hostility to dismiss six teams.

Sadly he was seldom trusted by England management, famously being referred to by then-chairman of selectors Ted Dexter as "Malcolm Devon" and being publicly humiliated by Ray Illingworth on tour in South Africa.

Bouncer brilliance

Devon could be as entertaining as he could be fast. With the bat in his hand he imagined himself to be Ian Botham, a touching delusion that had almost no basis in reality.

In a rain-affected NatWest Trophy match between Derbyshire and Hertfordshire in June 1991, Malcolm was called upon to take part in a bowl-out to decide which team would progress to the next round.

All he had to do was to hit a set of unguarded stumps - no great shakes for a Test bowler, you'd think.

Think again. Devon measured out a 20-pace run-up, sprinted up to the wicket at full steam and unleashed a sizzling bouncer which landed half way down the pitch and cleared the stumps by a good three feet.

Devon - we shall miss you.




SEE ALSO
Malcolm bows out
19 Sep 03  |  Cricket



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