Shaun Pollock on Malcolm Marshall September 20, 2009

Maco, my mentor

He started off as a faraway icon on a tape, and became a coach and more besides

Growing up in isolated South Africa left us with little exposure to international icons to marvel over. That's not to say there weren't any local cricketers that grabbed my attention. I used to watch the rebel tours, and think that would be my path as well. We certainly didn't think we would ever play against countries like Australia or England. I was a fan of players like Rupert Hanley and Trevor Packer.

I was also very interested in cricket from other parts of the world. I used to go to Dale Benkenstein's house and his dad used to have videotapes of the World Series from Australia. That was where I saw Malcolm Marshall in all his pomp.

What amazed me about him was his unbelievable control of the ball and his ability to swing it both ways. It was even more remarkable because he was quite short in stature, but such a good bowler. I really wanted to be like him.

I read in a local paper that he was going to be joining Natal and I was very excited at the opportunity to meet him. I was still in the training squad for Natal at that time, but by the time he arrived in Durban I had made my provincial debut. Malcolm was my mentor from that time until I first represented South Africa.

Malcolm had a real way with coaching and teaching. He gave players respect, but not too much. He taught us to think for ourselves and made us work through and visualise how we were going to get people out. Even though he had a very serious side to him, he was always ready to have a chat, and he had a very bubbly personality. On a personal level he helped me build my confidence and develop as a player and that was largely because he really believed in me.

I came up against him as a coach when South Africa played against West Indies in 1998. That was the series where we whitewashed the Windies and I don't think Malcolm was very happy with that. I was very upset when he passed away, because I lost not just a mentor and a childhood hero but a friend as well.

As told to Firdose Moonda, a freelance writer based in Johannesburg