Malcolm Denzil Marshall commonly known as Malcolm Marshall was a West Indian cricketer, primarily a right arm fast bowler and a right handed batsman. He was 5 feet 9 inches tall which was less as compared to the other pacemen and still he attained considerable bowling success.
In an era of great West Indian fast bowlers, at a time when it was an achievement to simply be part of the fearsome quartet (Holding, Garner, Roberts, Croft and later Ambrose, Bishop, Walsh to name a few), Malcolm Marshall’s skill and determination took him to the top of the pile.
At just under 5’ 11’’, Marshall was relatively short compared to his fellow quick bowlers but he used this to his advantage. An unorthodox angled run-up and whippy, front-on action produced both searing pace and unplayable swing, supplemented by a wicked bouncer that became the most feared ball in his armoury.
However, it was Marshall’s exceptional cricketing brain and competitiveness that set him apart – as one cricket writer said, ‘he had all the toys’ but more importantly ‘he knew when and how to play with them’.
At his peak he was the best fast bowler of his time, possibly of all time, and his bowling average of 20.94 is still the best that any bowler has taken over 200 Test wickets. You can watch him in action here.
As a talented lower order batsman he did not really do himself justice. However, he did love batting and is probably the closest the West Indies have had to a world-class all-rounder since Sir Garfield Sobers.
Off the pitch he is remembered most for his cheerful Bajan spirit and was exceptionally popular among his fellow players, team-mates and opponents. Former West Indian team-mate Colin Croft said, ‘I do not know anyone who would say anything bad about Malcolm as a person or cricketer.’
Sadly his life was cruelly cut short when, in 1999 aged 41, he died not long after being diagnosed with colon cancer.
He was one of the finest of West Indies fast bowlers of 1980s. In 81 Test matches he accumulated 1810 runs at an average of 18.85 which comprised of 10 half centuries and took 25 catches. In One day International matches he piled up 955 runs including 2 half centuries at an average of 14.92 and took 15 catches.
The best phase of his career was from 1982 to 1986 during which he played 7 continuous Test series and bagged minimum 21 wickets in each. While playing against India in the 1983-84 series he took 33 wickets, had a batting average of 34 and scored 92 runs at Kanpur which was his best Test score.