Cricket: Malcolm's ambition

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The Independent Online

Devon Malcolm, England's 32-year-old paceman, was the man the youngsters most wanted to meet as the entire tour party visited the township of Alexandra.

As the one black player in Mike Atherton's squad, Malcolm knows he is already being singled out by many South Africans as a role model - and it is Malcolm who will be the main attraction in the even bigger black community of Soweto at the end of this week if, as seems likely, England pick him for a four-day match against a South African invitation XI.

Malcolm is happy to do as much as he can to assist the authorities here with their development programme - which is introducing cricket to the country's most deprived communities - but also has his own ambitions

"If I don't take nine wickets in the first innings of the first Test I hope I'm still given a chance," he said, recalling both the best and worst experiences of his England career.

It was only 14 months ago that Malcolm destroyed South Africa's batting at The Oval by taking 9 for 57 which helped level the series, but the praise he received for that performance contrasted sharply with what happened to him at Headingley during last summer.

He picked up a wicket with his first ball of the first Test against the West Indies but was then taken apart by Brian Lara. After this, Malcolm was left out for the next four Tests.

Despite a minor knee operation just before the end of last season, Malcolm is confident about his ability to make a major impact on this series.

n Wasim Akram, the Lancashire fast bowler, was re-appointed as the Pakistan captain yesterday for the forthcoming tour to Australia and New Zealand. The 29-year-old replaces Ramiz Raja, who has paid the price for his country's recent poor run of form.