Cricketer wins damages for loyalty jibe

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The Independent Online
The England cricketer Devon Malcolm yesterday accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages over a magazine article which questioned his commitment to the team.

The Jamaican-born Derbyshire fast bowler, who leaves for the winter tour of South Africa tomorrow, attended the High Court to hear his solicitor, Naynesh Desai, tell the judge, Mr Justice Morland, of the great offence caused by the item in the July issue of Wisden Cricket Monthly.

Headed "Is it in the blood?", the article suggested that England players of overseas origin would lack real commitment to the England team and would be motivated solely by a desire for personal advancement and achievement.

It named Mr Malcolm, who has 32 caps and has taken more than 100 Test wickets, in such a way as to question his suitability to be selected for England, his patriotism and his loyalty.

Mr Malcolm found the allegations, which were entirely untrue, racist and highly offensive, Mr Desai said.

He had always been a fully committed England player and supporter and took pride in playing for his country.

Rupert Elliott, for the defence, said the publishers Wisden Cricket Magazines Ltd and the magazine's editor dissociated themselves from the allegations, which were made by an independent contributor.

The article was published in the belief that it was a contribution to a legitimate debate but it was now accepted it should not have appeared.

They had already published an apology and were happy to repeat it in public. They had agreed to pay Mr Malcolm damages and his legal cost.

Mr Malcolm, of Oakwood, Derby, left court smiling after the judge added his best wishes for the tour.

"I hope Mr Malcolm can repeat his triumph at The Oval," Mr Justice Morland commented, referring to the bowler's haul in 1994 of nine South African wickets for 57 runs.

Afterwards, Mr Malcolm said he intended to pay a share of the damages to the Derbyshire Children's Hospital and the Devon Malcolm Cricket Centre for young people in Sheffield.

"I am delighted that my commitment to the England team has been recognised. I hope no one will ever again question the dedication and loyalty of sportsmen and women because of their place of birth or ethnic origin," he said.

"It is important to me to promote multi-racial sport. I am looking forward now to playing for England in South Africa."

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