Malcolm bows out with broadside at overseas players

Wisden CricInfo staff

September 19, 2003

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One of England's oldest warhorses, 40-year-old Devon Malcolm, has announced his retirement, and delivered a parting shot criticising the number of foreigners playing in the county game.

Speaking to the London-based Mirror newspaper, Malcolm slammed the number of overseas mercenaries who are playing county cricket by exploiting EC laws which mean that if they claim European ancestry and so get an EC passport, they have to be treated as domestic rather than overseas players. At present their are 30 of them, and Malcolm insists that their presence is stifling home-grown talent and impacting on the Test side.

"They are Australians or South Africans holding EC passports because their grandmother was Italian or whatever," he fumed. "Legally there is not a lot we can do to stop them seeking employment in England, but that does not mean counties are obliged to sign them. Some of these guys have no intention of making themselves available to play for England and they are abusing the system. I would like to see a gentlemen's agreement between the counties under which they would pick a minimum of nine England-qualified players for any first-class match."

And Malcolm has little time for the bigger-name stars who he accuses of milking the system for their own benefit. "You have to pay their wages, give them a car, rent them a flat, look after their families. Where is all that money coming from? Instead of giving our best prospects valuable experience in the County Championship, we are preparing these guys to come back one day and bite the hand that once fed them.

"Other foreign players on the fringes of Test cricket come here, take notes about our bright prospects store them on lap-tops and use the knowledge to undermine England in further series. I would not call it spying as such, but what is in it for English cricket? They take money out of our game, keep in touch with developments in our domestic cricket and we are left with no trump cards. We are a bit too accommodating.

"It's fantastic when you get world-class figures like Viv Richards playing whole seasons at Somerset because people of his stature are role models. I have no problem with people like that acting as guiding lights for our young players."

As far as his own career is concerned, Malcolm has no regrets about the timing of his departure. "I've had a privileged career and I would not have swapped the last 19 years for anything," he told The Mirror. "Back in 1984 I took a year out from my business studies course to have a crack at playing first-class cricket - and nearly 20 years later, I'm still going.

"But although I can still bowl pretty quick, I don't want to be remembered as a guy who scraped the barrel too much. Bowling medium pace is not an option ... I want people to remember me making the South Africans hop around and diving for cover. Instead of young batsmen licking their lips and thinking, 'Here comes the old man' I hope they will offer a sigh of relief that I'm stepping down."

Malcolm played 40 Tests for England between 1989 and 1997, taking 128 wickets at 37.09, with a best of 9 for 57 against South Africa at The Oval in 1994. In 10 ODIs he took 16 wickets at 25.25. He spent 14 season at Derbyshire, moving to Northamptonshire at the end of 1997 and then to Leicestershire in 2001.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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