Cricket: England are wary of Marshall lore

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The Independent Online
THE sight of Malcolm Marshall, looking lean and fit, was not greeted with joy when he joined the England A team by their hotel pool yesterday, writes Glenn Moore from Durban.

'He looks in better shape than for some time,' one player groaned before waving a welcome to the West Indian Test wicket record- holder.

Marshall, 35, is acting captain of Natal, who England meet today in their fourth four-day match of the tour. England have faced several Test bowlers during this tour, and some very quick uncapped ones, but no one of the class of Marshall.

He will not be the only pace bowler under careful observation, however, for much attention also surrounds England's Martin

McCague and Martin Bicknell.

Both bowled in the nets yesterday afternoon and will play.

McCague is returning from the side strain which interrupted his gradual return to full pace while

Bicknell is playing his first first- class match of the tour. The seamer, who nearly went home with a rib muscle injury, said with some feeling: 'I'm sick of being 12th man.'

England will decide the team after looking at the pitch this morning but Mark Ilott and Dominic Cork are definitely being rested, enabling them to make the most of New Year's Eve.

Marshall's side is missing the regular captain, Jonty Rhodes, the Test opener, Andrew Hudson, and the wicketkeeper, Errol Stewart, all in Australia, and the rested Zimbabwean bowler, Peter Rawson.

But there are several promising batsmen, notably Mark Bruyns, Dale Benkenstein and the all- rounder Neil Johnson and a famous scion in Shaun Pollock, the son of Peter. A dynamic fielding side - as might be expected of Rhodes' team - Natal are currently third in the Castle Cup.

The last English national side to play here, M J K Smith's 1964-65 tourists, won by an innings and 104 runs but Durban is better remembered for the 'Timeless Test' of 1939. Set 696 to win, Wally Hammond's side were 654 for 5 when, after nine playing days and another lost to rain, they had to catch the boat home.