Malcolm Marshall: West Indian fast bowling supremo

The late Malcolm Marshall was the best West Indian fast bowler of all-time.
The late Malcolm Marshall was the best West Indian fast bowler of all-time.

Full name: Malcolm Denzil Marshall

Born: April 18, 1958 at Bridgetown, Barbados

Died: November 4, 1999 at Bridgetown, Barbados

Major teams: West Indies, Barbados, Hampshire, Natal

Playing role: Fast bowler, lower-order batsman

Other: Manager (West Indies)

Profile

He was not the tallest fast bowler, but what he lacked in height, he made up for in speed. Malcolm Marshall was one of the quickest and most effective of the West Indies fast bowlers who played in the golden era that started with Andy Roberts in 1974 and ended with Courtney Walsh in 2001. Many cricket pundits suggest that he is one of the greats of all-time, not just a West Indian legend.

The Barbadian is even listed as an ESPN Legend and once held the world record for the highest number of Test wickets. The 5'10 Barbadian made his debut in the 1977 First-class season. One year later, the defections to World Series Cricket fast-tracked him to the West Indies Test team.

Marshall had a relatively slow start in cricket, but got an opportunity to secure his place in the West Indian pace quartet in the 1980 series against England. Marshall enjoyed bowling against the former colonial masters, with 127 of his 376 Test wickets coming against them.

Malcolm Marshall's bowling records

Match-type 
Number of matches
Wickets
Average
BBI
BBM
Econ  
Strike Rate 
Tests 
81
376
20.94
7/22
11/89
2.68 
46.7 
ODIs
136
157
26.96
4/18
4/18
3.53
45.7
First-class 
408
1651
19.10
8/71
---
2.53 
45.2 
List A 
440
521
23.71
5/13
5/13
3.32 
42.6 
Source: Cricinfo.com

Malcolm Marshall was head and shoulders above his contemporaries like Michael Holding and even Joel Garner. He was the shortest of them all, but he had the most wickets, lowest average and lowest bowling strike rate of that bunch. Marshall even had the best Test batting average of the fast bowlers of his era – 18.85. He was handy with the bat, scoring 10 Test fifties and seven First-class centuries.

One of Marshall's finest moments in cricket was when he broke his thumb in a Test match against England at Headingley in 1984. He sustained an injury in the first innings of the game, and was only able to bowl six wicketless overs. To everyone's surprise, "Macco" came out to bat at number 11.

That move helped Larry Gomes reach a deserved century. When the West Indies bowled again, Marshall bowled with just one arm; fortunately for him, his bowling arm was good. He wrecked England with 7/53, which was then his career-best and helped the West Indies to an eight-wicket victory.

As a coach, the fast bowling legend was instrumental. He had a role to play in South African fast bowler Makhaya Ntini's development, with Ntini crediting the West Indian for his eventual success. Apart from coaching in South Africa, Marshall also managed the West Indies team and had stints with Hampshire as a coach as well.

Unfortunately, he passed away at age 41, while he was still the manager of the regional side. His passing drew tributes from around the cricketing world as many remembered the charming man who was one of the meanest fast bowlers around.

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Comments 3 comments

thehemu profile image

thehemu 5 years ago from New Delhi, India

Hi SpiffyD, i really don't have chance to see Malcolm Marshall, and only just read or heard about he seems to be legend. thanks for sharing about him he seems great.


rexertea 5 years ago

I have seen videos of Michael Holding, and also saw live matches of Malcolm Marshall against India. I believe that Malcolm Marshall is certainly one of the best, but Micheal Holding during his peak was more fearsome.


SpiffyD profile image

SpiffyD 5 years ago from The Caribbean Author

I recall looking at the video Micheal Holding over against Geoff Boycott in 1981. Holding bowled a better bouncer, but that alone wouldn't make him a fearsome prospect to me. Marshall was a more complete bowler in my estimation and is easily one of cricket's top fast bowlers of all-time. Thanks for the comment though.

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