Black History Month: Malcolm Marshall

Hampshire Cricket – courtesy of Club Historian Dave Allen – is marking Black History Month this October by celebrating and honouring the contributions of some of the best players to ever represent the Club

MALCOLM Denzil MARSHALL (1979-1993)
Born 18 April 1958, Bridgetown Barbados

Died 4 November 1999, Barbados
Right Handed Batter, Right Arm Fast Bowler

210 First-Class Matches, County Cap 1981
Batting: 5,847 runs, average 25.20, Five centuries, 26 half-centuries
Highest Score 117 v Yorkshire at Leeds 1990
Bowling: 826 wickets, average 18.64, 45 five-fors, Seven ten wicket match hauls
Best Bowling Innings 8-71 v Worcestershire at Southampton 1982
Catches: 76

214 Limited Overs Matches
Batting: 2,073 runs, average 18.34, Three half-centuries
Highest Score: 77 v Northamptonshire at Southampton 1990
Bowling: 237 wickets, average 24.78, Two five-fors
Best Bowling 5-13 v Glamorgan at Portsmouth 1979
Catches: 39

Malcolm Marshall, was born in Barbados where he learned to bowl fast at Parkinson Comprehensive in St Michael and then with two clubs, Spartan and Banks, from where he became one of the greatest cricketers of all-time - he was also a very capable batsman. He spent the best part of twenty years at Hampshire as player and coach where he was one of the finest overseas cricketer to play for the county, not merely on ability but on attitude, commitment and length of service.

Malcolm Marshall was relatively unknown when he signed for Hampshire in 1979, but before arriving at Southampton, and after just one first-class match age 19, in February 1978 in Barbados (6-77 & 1-20 against Jamaica), he was chosen to tour India with a West Indies team in 1978/9 side shorn of major players through the World Series Cricket controversy. He played there in three Test Matches but with a modest return of just three wickets but was nonetheless recommended to Hampshire as a replacement for Andy Roberts who had departed in 1978. When Marshal first arrived his comparatively slight physique was a surprise but it proved to be no problem at all as Marshall generally stayed very fit and strong through the next fifteen seasons.

When Malcolm Marshall first came to Hampshire he had a room in a pub close to the County Ground where he spent much time alone before the season started. His first county match was a B& H Cup defeat away at Derby, never one of the more inviting grounds, especially in April. Four days later in his first Championship match which Hampshire won, Marshall took 3-45 and 4-23 against Glamorgan at Southampton and he ended the season with 46 Championship wickets at 20.80 plus 23 limited-overs wickets in the various competitions. This was a not a poor return but in his autobiography Marshall revealed that it had not been an easy introduction to English cricket: "Hampshire were undergoing a rather transitional stage (with) wicketkeeper Bob Stephenson in charge of a team largely on the decline … and his captaincy methods caused me many problems as I struggled to settle in. Hampshire needed a ready-made world star (but) if they expected instant results from me, they did not get them and that led to conflict with my captain." (43)

He revealed that his first impressions of county cricket were how negative it seemed with “winning not a priority” and fields generally too defensive but after that one season Nick Pocock replaced Stephenson as captain (he retired in 1980) and after touring with West Indies that year, Malcolm Marshall returned to a rather different Hampshire side.

In 1980, he took 15 Test wickets on West Indies’ tour of England while playing only in Hampshire’s last five matches in a season when they finished last in the Championship for the only time since 1905 – he took 4-53 and 5-39 in their one victory. There was one bad moment in the first Test when he was certain he had dismissed Boycott caught behind but the appeal was turned down and his angry reaction led to him missing the nxet Test for disciplinary reasons. From the point when he returned to Hampshire in the following season, he performed for the county with great consistency. In 1981, there were 68 Championship wickets (19.42) and 425 runs (HS 75*) and in 1982, 134 Championship wickets at 15.73 and 633 runs (22.60). In 1983, he played in a Test series in the Caribbean until mid-May, re-joined Hampshire, then missed the middle of the season while playing in the World Cup; nonetheless in just 16 Championship matches he took 80 wickets at 16.58.

In 1984, he toured England, taking 28 Test wickets at 19.78. In ten seasons from 1981-1990, Hampshire finished in the bottom four in the Championship in 1984 and 1988 when Marshall and Greenidge toured England but in the other seasons they were seventh once, never lower than that, and in the top three in 1982, 1983 and 1985 – their impact was huge. Malcolm Marshall clearly loved playing for Hampshire and the feeling was reciprocated by his captain Mark Nicholas, he team-mates and the members and supporters. In comparison with some major team sports, county cricket is a fairly gentle, tolerant environment but Marshall did reveal that he and other Black county cricketers were subjected to racist abuse by a minority of spectators in Yorkshire – an irony perhaps given more recent developments at what is supposedly England’s ‘senior’ county club. In 1987 in a chapter called ‘Racial taunts’ he recorded: "There is always a hint of malice from certain sections of the crowd… a hard core… who are never slow to voice their hatred for the West Indian players in particular… Every time I go there I am the victim of obscenities from some of those who call themselves cricket fans." (71)

He cited a number of other recipients of this treatment including Viv Richards, Joel Garner, Wayne Daniel, John Shepherd and David Lawrence who played for England. He added, that he had never encountered similar experiences elsewhere in England or elsewhere, noting the generally “encouragingly warm and kind” receptions for West Indian cricketers – with the exception of one incident in a match between West Indies and Australia in 1984.

In 1985, Marshall took 95 Championship wickets at 17.68 and scored 768 runs at 24.77, and in 1986 Hampshire won the Sunday League while he took 100 Championship wickets at 15.08. There were 72 Championship wickets in the following season plus 610 runs at 35.88, including a Championship best of 99 v Middlesex at Lord’s (bowled by Fraser). He missed Hampshire’s first Lord’s Final in 1988, while on tour and in 1989 and 1990 he played in two narrow semi-final defeats. Hampshire won a second Final at Lord’s in 1991 but again, Marshall was touring, so when he played in the B&H Final v Kent and won his medal in 1992, it was a special moment, even for a man who had achieved so much. 1993 was his last season in County Cricket; when he finished with the county he had taken 826 first-class wickets for Hampshire and only he (18.64), Andy Roberts (16.70), and Derek Shackleton (18.23) of their major bowlers ended their county careers with an average below 20 - in Marshall’s case having bowled mainly on covered pitches. He finished with 239 wickets in limited overs matches for the county and overall passed 10,000 first-class career runs. In his autobiography he revealed that when he became “established in first-class cricket” he set his heart of 1,000 first-class wickets but he finished with 1,651 for all his sides at an average just below 20 each. He stands 20th in the list of all-time wicket-takers in Test cricket with 376 wickets in 81 Tests - fewer matches than any of the 19 ahead of him, 14 of whom played 100+ Tests (and two of them, Anderson and Broad 150+).

For his performances in 1982, he was nominated as one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year.

After leaving Hampshire, he played a little for Natal in South Africa before returning as Hampshire’s coach, but in the late 1990s he became ill, and cancer was diagnosed. In September 1999, he came to the County Ground with his son Mali to watch Hampshire playing v Somerset, but he was not seen there again. He died two months later, mourned across the cricket world as a great player and a much-loved man.

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