Crafty Mohd and Marshall arts

Published: Nov 21, 2019, 05:15 IST | Clayton Murzello | Mumbai

Shami can't be expected to know a lot about the late great Malcolm, but he's just a seat away from a good data base in coach Ravi Shastri

Mohammed Shami celebrates dismissing Pat Cummins of Australia during Day Four of the fourth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January Pic/ Getty Images
Mohammed Shami celebrates dismissing Pat Cummins of Australia during Day Four of the fourth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January Pic/ Getty Images

Clayton

Memories of Malcolm Marshall were brought to life the other day. First on the West Indies pace great's 20th death anniversary which fell on November 4, followed by Sunil Gavaskar pointing to a similarity between Mohammed Shami and the Barbadian after the Indian swing bowler's seven-wicket show in the Indore Test against Bangladesh.

"Clive Lloyd gave the new ball to Malcolm Marshall and he picked 30 wickets because he had that ability. Mohammed Shami is like Marshall in some sense. His delivery also comes at you like a missile; same kind of late inward and outward movement. Very, very difficult to negotiate," Gavaskar said on television, referring to the India v West Indies series in the 1983-84 season.

Gavaskar is not known to indulge in hyperbole, so his praise for the bowling hero of Indore must have genuine merit. Shami can't be expected to know about the greatness of Marshall (he was born a year before Marshall played his last Test, at The Oval in 1991) but he's just a seat away from a good data base in his coach Ravi Shastri. And if that conversation takes place, the story about Marshall batting and bowling with his left wrist in a plaster (at Leeds in 1984) will surely come up.

"You think you can go out and bat with that (fractured thumb)," he was asked by his captain Clive Lloyd. Marshall thought about it and said, "Why not?"

The Indian attack being compared to the famous West Indies pace pack of the 1980s also provides a good reason to remember the life and times of Malcolm Denzil Marshall who, at 41, was snatched away by cancer.

Marshall made a big impact in his 13-year Test career for the West Indies, but 1983 to 1986 were the years in which he was probably at his most dangerous and lethal. Ask Mike Gatting, who had to get his nose rearranged after he was hit in a one-day international at Kingston in 1986. Or England's opening batsman Andy Lloyd, who didn't walk to the crease for another Test innings after being felled by a Marshall bouncer at Birmingham in 1984.

He troubled India as well in the Caribbean in the 1982-83 series — on his home turf — with 21 wickets and Dilip Vengsarkar will remember that one for sure.

Both opponents were hungry for success. Vengsarkar was looking to get his first hundred outside of India and England, while Marshall was keen to avenge the hurt and misery he endured on his return to the Bangalore dressing room in 1978. In Marshall Arts, the Barbados great wrote about how he was given out (lbw to BS Chandrasekhar for 0) after Vengsarkar's "constant appealing."

Marshall denied Vengsarkar a certain century in the final Test of the series at Antigua. Putting up with Marshall's bouncers, Vengsarkar worked his way to 94 but a hook shot off Marshall fell into Winston Davis's hands at long leg.

The Test series in India held not long after India won the 1983 World Cup, kicked off with an out and out Marshall show at Kanpur — eight wickets and 92 runs. While West Indies walked away with a 3-0 series win, Vengsarkar cracked two hundreds in Delhi and Bombay where the Tests were drawn. Gavaskar too enjoyed a couple of three-figure knocks in the series and that was the last time he had him as an opponent in Test cricket.

While Marshall was menacing on the field, he had a soft heart which my late journalist friend Trevor Manuel was a beneficiary of, at the start of that series. Trevor was finding it hard to get Viv Richards to write columns during the Kanpur Test for this newspaper (no syndication agencies in those days). After several unsuccessful attempts to discuss the deal with Richards, Trevor decided to seek Marshall's help and he obliged by convincing Richards to hear Trevor out.

Marshall was an inspiration to his teammates and the next generation of West Indies fast bowlers. Former fast bowler Winston Davis told me on Tuesday from Bewdley in the United Kingdom that Malcolm didn't conceal anything in the nets and would be ever-willing to help teammates and share tricks of the trade. "We were contemporaries; we were opponents too [in Shell Shield and county cricket]. On the field, he was intense. If Malcolm bowled a half volley and it was driven for four, he would get very upset with the batsman. But he was a remarkable human being," Davis said.

Upset Marshall was surely not on the first morning of the Calcutta Test in 1983. He had Gavaskar gloving one to wicketkeeper Jeff Dujon down the leg side off the first ball of the Test match. A little later, he yorked Anshuman Gaekwad with only nine on the board and caught and bowled Mohinder Amarnath for his fourth duck in the series. Marshall bagged nine wickets in that Calcutta Test. It was a game which earned him special status back home and he admitted enjoying every bit of the adulation.

Eden Gardens had a special place in Marshall's heart and it's the same with Shami. In three Tests, he has claimed 21 wickets; including a nine-wicket haul on his debut there in 2013. Shami opened the bowling in all of those three Tests and Kohli wouldn't be faulted for throwing the new ball to his skillful pacer in Friday's Test after opting to open with Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav in the previous Test at Indore.

It would be an apt reward for a toiler who has left all his personal turmoil at home to play a significant role in India's upswing.

mid-day's group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance.
He tweets @ClaytonMurzello

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The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper

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