Cricketers pick their favourites

'He was going to run all over you'

Part six: Allan Donald on the most intimidating bowlers he has seen. Right up there: Malcolm Marshall

Produced by: Gokul Chakravarthy; Interviewer: Nagraj Gollapudi

June 18, 2013


Allan Donald's XI most intimidating bowlers

'He was going to run all over you'

June 18, 2013

Andy Lloyd tries to unsuccessfully avoid a Malcolm Marshall bouncer, England v West Indies, Edgbaston, 1984
Malcolm Marshall: wanted to dish out pain © Getty Images

My first run-in with Marshall, was as a young kid playing my first county game for Warwickshire… my second county match, in fact, against Hampshire. Mark Nicholas was captain [of Hampshire].

I'd read so many books about him Wisden, Cricketer magazine, looked at so many photos of him, looked at lots of videos at Hansie Cronje's house when we looked at just Test matches - West Indies versus England or whatever. And now I had the opportunity of watching this guy go about his business on completely the flattest wicket in English county cricket, which is Edgbaston, during that time.

I walked out of the change room and I sat, because the pitch was nearer the Rea Bank Stand at Edgbaston, near the Colts ground, B field. So I walked right around and I sat in the stand there, and I just watched this guy run in all day.

He was not a tall man. He was skiddy. He had the knack, the skill, of swinging the ball both ways. He took 11 wickets in the game in three days. When I got to the crease eventually, there was a huddle, and I walked past and he said, "Were you the kid sitting in that stand earlier?" I didn't wanna say anything. I don't know what was coming.

And I was waiting for something quite harsh to come and he tapped me on the back of my head and he goes, "Good luck, son."

It took him two balls - just two balls. Just lost my off stump and he swung it away like this.

I think the one thing that set him apart is that you can just tell when someone is so in control of everything; so skilful. He probably wasn't as quick then in '89 as he was back a few years earlier but still fairly sharp. Bowled a heavy ball, and he just worked the crease. Came from close, from mid-crease to wide, just worked the crease the whole day. And his control was just absolutely magnificent, and for Mark Nicholas to carry three slips during that time on a flat pitch where he just swung the ball both ways was just… it was just poetry.

That to me is the most intimidating thing about Malcolm Marshall - the skill factor. Just out-thinking you all the time. Top batters, just lining them up, just setting them up for failure.

The saddest day for me was when in 1999, right after that World Cup, he was diagnosed with cancer and it was literally over. I would never forget that time when I sat with Malcolm in Hampshire in 1995, when I spent a whole session just picking his brains. He told some great stories that you just sat there with your mouth open and listening to this guy talk about the time when they were in Australia and how they cleaned up Australia. And I just thought I wanted to have this guy's mindset.

He had this passion for knocking over batsmen. This passion for hurting batsmen and this passion for helping others, and that to me was priceless. I learnt so much.

Andy Lloyd, who was my captain at Warwickshire, Malcolm ended his career in two balls. I saw the photo of Lloyd lying on the ground and holding his face. It was two balls in a Test and it was all over.

He had this thing about this pain factor that he always talked about. He found a lot of pleasure of really not only just intimidating them but he found a lot of pleasure in saying, "You know, I wanna dish out pain." He hit a lot of batsmen all over the place.

He just saw an opponent as a major threat and he was gonna run all over you, regardless, and he'd find a way quickly. I think his way was to intimidate you quickly. Once you are a winded animal you're gonna get taken down at some stage. That was his greatness. That's the thing that hit home for me - that kind of thinking.

It made sense because you are competing with one another. But to remove you quickly, and painfully sometimes, that was always going to be the case. But that sort of thinking really got me thinking too.

Posted by Babuthomas on (June 19, 2013, 13:30 GMT)

@voltairC. Gavaskar scored hundred plus in Delhi test. That was his fastest hundred. Gavaskar normally plays ground shots only. But in the Delhi test we have seen a diffrent/ attacking Gavaskar.

Posted by   on (June 19, 2013, 5:43 GMT)

Marshall was a truly wonderful fast bowler. An abiding memory for me was his spell of 5-29 against the Aussies in the '89 SCG test. He was the only fast bowler on either side to make an impact in a match dominated by spinners (Border took 11 wickets). Such a shame he died young but he left us with so many great memories.

Posted by US_Indian on (June 19, 2013, 3:40 GMT)

Thanks to you the white lightening AKA Allan Donald, I did like you as a fast bowler when you came into the SA side and knocked who ever came in your way but your insight into these fast bowling greats who I have seen in action as well and those memories still are etched in my mind which happened during my teen years and as a matter of fact I was a fast bowler myself having played grade cricket but didn't go too far having imitated Imran and Marshall but without that effect and being indian you know the mindset existing then but anyway I could sense now that the education you had in your early days with guys like Marshall, Holding and many more during your interaction in the English counties or SA domestic games and some of the legendary fast bowlers of SA who the world could not see in action during their playing days due to unfortunate circumstances like Le Roux and others has helped. If I ever happen to pick up a list of atleast 16 fast bowlers, you would definitely be one of them.

Posted by VoltaireC on (June 19, 2013, 3:10 GMT)

Macko-Quite simply better than the Best! My first brush(visually) with Macko was the 83-84 series in India.Seething with rage at the World Cup debacle,Macko simply unleashed mayhem,the likes of which were never seen again. I watched the 2nd test(Ferozshah Kotla) opening overs on the telly.watching him run with such springy menace and bowl with such venom was frightening experience even on TV.The Indian batsmen were sh* scared..ironically the respect forSunny/Vengsarkar increases phenomenally as they scored some glorious tons in the very same series. Macko's spell in Calcutta was the fastest that he his own accounts in his bio Despite English press ignoring it, this series was the crowning glory and firmly established him as lynchpin of windies attack for yrs to come. His death is so unbearably sad..makes me cry everytime. To know that he was such a fantastic person, 'giver' in Mark Nicholas words, makes the pain immeasurable.His deliveries might have hit,but he touched lives

Posted by Un_Citoyen_Indien on (June 18, 2013, 16:36 GMT)

The greatest fast bowler ever, period.

Posted by blackie on (June 18, 2013, 16:04 GMT)

I became a cricket fan around 1983 and became a Malcolm Marshall fan almost immediately. His 'twinkle toes' run up was such a calm before the storm of hostile, accurate and skilfully dangerous fast bowling. The angled run up probably made most batsmen unhappy to begin with but then the speed and swing were irresistable. This era of cricket has had a number of fast bowling greats with Hadlee, McGrath, Akram, Ambrose and Marshall as frontrunners. I pick Marshall as marginally the best.

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