Cricket: Legend who was a loyal servant

Jon Culley hears a special farewell to the great Marshall
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AS AN international cricketer of immense quality whose achiev- ements reflected his talent, Malcolm Marshall is mourned by the biggest names in the global game. But he leaves intact another reputation, that of hard-working, dedicated county player.

Between 1979 and 1993 Marshall loyally served Hampshire, whom he subsequently coached. His time there earned him respect, naturally, from his county colleagues, but also considerable affection. As a strong supporter and enthusiastic member of what cricketers know as the fast bowlers' union, Marshall developed particularly close relationships with his fellow quicks, among them Keith Stevenson, who was established as a new-ball bowler when the young man from Barbados first set foot in the Southampton dressing- room.

"I think what was special about Malcolm was that he was a genuine team player," Stevenson said. "This is not true of all overseas players. Some keep themselves to themselves and remain somewhat remote figures, never really becoming fully integrated in the life of the county. I've played with some like that, and you soon realise that what they've come for primarily is the pay cheque.

"Malcolm was not like that. He was most definitely a West Indian, a really lively character. He loved his disco music and he would play it in the dressing room, loudly. He had a strong sense of fun and enjoyed the banter on the field. But at the same time as having his own identity, he wanted to be one of the team. When we went for a drink after a day's play, he would be there; if we talked about going out for dinner together, he'd be the first to say he would come."

But, Stevenson recalls, Marshall's contribution to Hampshire cricket extended well beyond merely being a good socialiser. "I think what im- pressed people was his willingness to help other players, which is obviously what led him into coaching. He had time for everybody, no matter how jun- ior. He would pass on tips to younger players but was comfortable too with individuals more senior and experienced.

"My first season as his bowling partner was my best, bringing me 60-odd wickets. To an extent I cashed in because opposition batsman tended to take more liberties with me than with Malcolm, but I felt I also benefited from the advice he was always ready to give.

"When he came to Hampshire he was only 20 or 21 and I was in my late 20s, but I never had a problem with him telling me if he saw some way in which I was going wrong. He was never arrogant.

"At that time, having arrived as the successor to Andy Roberts in Hampshire's team, he was a bit of an unknown, only on the fringes of the West Indies squad. But you could see he knew what he was talking about. What I remember most is that we supported each other. He was never selfish. If I had a good day he would always congratulate me, always say, `Well done'. There was never any sulking or resentment that the wickets should have been his. That attitude helped him motivate others."

Marshall attended every old players' reunion his commitments would allow and Stevenson, now back at his first club, Derbyshire, as commercial manager, saw him as recently as September at Hampshire's annual get-together. "His illness had left him looking very thin. But the feeling then was that his treatment had been successful, so it was a shock to learn he had passed on."