Cricket: Third Test: Pride before a haul: Stephen Fay hears England's hero explain what spurred him on to create history

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THE FIRST ball Devon Malcolm received yesterday was from Fanie de Villiers and it hit his helmet right between his eyes. The blow was fierce enough to dislodge the padding on the inside of the frame, and Malcolm felt two separate emotions. The first was pride: 'I stood up and took the hit,' he said after close of play. The second was anger; he was fired up and bowling fast was the best revenge.

He knew the South African batsmen do not like fast bowling too much. Not that he thinks they are especially afraid. Everyone is. Malcolm is: 'I wouldn't like to face me,' he says.

Dressed neatly in a white shirt and a brown and yellow tie, Malcolm did not look at all fierce at the end of the day. He has a gentle voice and the faint remnants of a West Indian accent. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica 31 years ago and nine for 57 are his best figures in first-class cricket; the sixth best in the history of Test cricket. He was not in any mood to crow. This was one of his best performances, he thought, and had enjoyed it but he said that he had bowled equally well in the past.

The difference between yesterday and the first day, when he bowled 25 overs for 81 runs was matter-of-fact: it was the wicket. In South Africa's first innings he got just one, and was disturbed when he hit Jonty Rhodes a mighty bang on the head and put him in the Maudsley Hospital. Rhodes distributed a disarming handwritten note in the press box yesterday saying he bore Malcolm no hard feelings: 'Bouncers are part of any fast bowlers' repertoire.'

In the second innings only Darren Gough prevented him getting all 10 wickets for only the second time ever. Malcolm did not mind; Gough deserved a wicket, he said. He felt higher and higher as the wickets fell, three before lunch, two between lunch and tea, and then four to finish off the innings and single-handedly put England in a winning position.

Malcolm clearly felt the stirrings of a third emotion. On the eve of the Lord's Test match he had been told by Michael Atherton that his services were not required: 'I was very disappointed. It took quite a while to get over that.' He was conscious of the criticism that at 31, he was over the hill. But his Test career is only five years old, and he was in no mood to call it a day

Malcolm's performance had taken the pressure off Michael Atherton. The team had met in the morning and agreed to put the captain's difficulties behind them, and the selectors gave Atherton a further vote of confidence by picking him as captain for this week's one-day internationals against the South Africans.

England one-day squad Atherton (capt), Cork, DeFreitas, Fairbrother, Fraser, Gough, Hick, Lewis, Malcolm, Rhodes, Stewart, Thorpe, Udal.

Atherton stumped, page 9

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