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Cricket: Malcom's Test target

DEVON MALCOLM believes he is ready to play in the fourth Test against the West Indies starting in Bridgetown tomorrow. Whether Mike Atherton and his fellow England selectors concur is another matter.

Despite understandable signs of rustiness during the defeat against a West Indian Board XI in Grenada, the Derbyshire fast bowler took four wickets in what was his first meaningful work-out since returning home for a knee operation after the first Test. 'There was no soreness, no reaction at all,' Malcolm said yesterday. 'Now I know my knee is OK, I can concentrate on getting the ball in the right place and at the right pace. I feel ready for the Test and I hope to be in the squad.'

Keith Fletcher offered some encouragement. 'Devon is a serious contender because he's a wicket- taker. Even during the Grenada match, where the pitch was very slow and he was only bowling at about 65 per cent pace, he took four wickets.' Fletcher added, nevertheless, that 'it would be a risk to put him into a Test - we have to decide whether it is a risk worth taking.'

Another factor is that, while England's batting continues to be a shambles, the seam bowling was heartening in Trinidad with Andy Caddick and Chris Lewis producing their best form of the tour in support of Angus Fraser. It is difficult, therefore, to see Malcolm playing - unless the selectors opt for a four-pronged pace attack or make room for an extra bowler by omitting wicketkeeper Jack Russell, whose lapses in Trinidad have been compounded by a virus.