Friday, 6 February 2009

Partial to Marshall

I'm watching the first test between the West Indies and England. Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan are not so much charging as they are chipping towards a century each, and Sarwan has just marked 5000 test runs. With all the discussion going into this test about the fitness of the England bowlers, I got to thinking about the West Indies bowling legacy, and a question I was recently asked: "Who is your pick for the best West Indian bowler of all time?"

Now, the phrase " of all time" is a tricky one. And I'm not sure it's a fair question to ask, unless you're talking to a cricket historian. For example, when the great "Whispering Death" Michael Holding played what was described as "the greatest over in Test history", which he bowled in 1981 in Barbados to English batsman Geoff Boycott, I was 2 years old. When I did see a recording of it, I marvelled like everyone else at the pace of the over, and that final ball that saw Boycott clean bowled. But I wouldn't call that my time, and my time is all I can really speak of. I would put Holding on top based on the evidence I've seen of his greatness. And when it comes to my time, I loved to watch Curtly Ambrose, but I am overwhelmingly partial to Malcolm Marshall, who, though he was around at the same time as Holding, played his last one-day and test around five years later.

I think what impressed me about Marshall were his pace and accuracy at 5'9". We're used to fast bowlers well over 6 ft. But Marshall used to tear down the pitch in such a tight little ball, you almost didn't see when he released.

I know the sports posts bring the lurkers out of the woodwork, so if you have a pick for best West Indies bowler, do share.


  1. I can't better what you've said.

    I have a love for Michael Holding born of legend and grainy footage from before my time rather than first-hand experience. But I remember Malcolm Marshall from my earliest days watching cricket. The pace, the ridiculously quick arm speed, the swing - in both directions. And from a man who, while not short, was certainly dwarfed by other West Indian bowlers.

    But what I loved most was the fear he inspired. I used to love to see the fearsome bouncer, and the hapless, flailing Englishman, suddenly devoid of all batting grace in his instinctive efforts at self-preservation.

    Ambrose, Walsh, Hall, Holding and Roberts deserve their due. But there is no one better than Malcolm Marshall in my books.

  2. I can remember seeing Marshall tons of times, sitting in the Kensington Stand, eating mac pie and chicken with my family and that of my boy Markaman. Some of my greatest memories. I vote for Marshall for all the reasons outlined by Mark.

    Oh and for those who don't know, Mark (his action) resembled Marshall when bowling in primary school. How could I vote for anyone else? We love you Markyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!! lol. Stay up, bro.

  3. I would have to agree that Marshall was the best fast bowler of my time so far. I saw quite a bit more of him than I did of Holding, Roberts and Garner. I have a great memory of being glued to the radio when he came out to bat with a broken thumb so that Gomes could get his century in England in '84. I rate Walsh and Ambrose very highly too for their ability to bring us back into matches from seemingly hopeless positions in the days after the 'great' WI teams. That great test match against Australia in 1999 is a perfect example. We all hail Lara for virtually winning the match but it was Walsh and Ambrose who applied the pressure and bowled them out quite cheaply in their 2nd innings to give us a chance. Love the pic tho....if I am not mistaken that is the Kensington Stand and I would have watched my first test match in the stand just to the right of those open windows...the double decker stand.....India vs WI 1983. There is where I also tasted homemade ice cream for the first time.

  4. as a youngster playing cricket almost every day when we were batting we were viv richards, gordon greenidge or desmond haynes. When were bowling, there was only one man.. Malcolm Marshall! We had the man run up and every thing lol.

    After that it was all about Ambrose.

  5. I'm partial to Marshall. having not just watched him in tests but in regional matches at kensington I just remember there was always such a buzz when he was bowling. He was always electrifying no matter the status of the game. My favorite spell was one in a regional match against the Windwards back in the mid 80s. Dont remember how many wickets he got but every ball he bowled I felt that a batman was going to get injured.

    Plus who can forget that one arm bandit spell of 7 wickets in England.

  6. Thanks for the great comments, complete with mental images. Everyone seems to agree with me so as I suspected, I am, in fact, a genius.


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