Malcolm Marshall Batting

Malcolm Marshall: The one-handed seven-wicket haul

We’re back to the English summer of 1984 in which West Indies brutally defeated the hosts by 2-1 in the ODI series followed by the famous ‘Blackwash’.

The ODI series was already highlighted by one of the most epic batting performances of all-time, in which Sir Vivian Richards scored a mind-blowing 189*. At this point, no one believed that there would be a more defining performance in the tournament. But this performance stunned everyone.

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Already having lost 2-0 to the West Indies in the 5-match series, England was badly in need of a good start to turn its fortunes in the series. Batting first in the third match, England had to put up a big score in order to command its control over the game. And all eyes were on the pace-bowling duo of Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding to destroy the English batting line-up. This duo picked wickets in plenty in the Test series by then.

Marshall who started well bowling four maidens in six overs was then victim to a powerful shot of Chris Broad. In an attempt to save the ball from reaching the boundary, Marshall fractured his arm in two places. He was crying in pain when he was carried off the field and was asked not to step on the field for at least two weeks.

Marshall was a passionate cricketer with a mad love towards the game. This was the conversation that night, narrated by the then captain, Clive Lloyd:

Everyone said he couldn’t play and we would be depleted. I was sitting with him and asked ‘you think you can play?’. He replied: ‘Skip, if you want me to play I will play!

The next day, England was all-out after putting up a score of 270. The West Indies, in response, was at 290/8, when its batsman Larry Gomes was at 96* aiming for his well-deserved half-century. With Marshall in no condition to play, England had to pick just one wicket to get West Indies all-out. Then, Joel Garner was run-out for a duck leaving Gomes stranded at 4 runs short of a century.

Then one of the most surprising things happened. A smiling Malcolm Marshall came walking down the stairs ready to bat. His hand was plastered and he was shrieking in pain all-night. But he wanted to play.

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The next innings, when England was batting, the sight was even more spectacular. Marshall was ready to bowl, much to the surprise of his teammates. As usual, he opened the bowling along with Joel Garner bowling in-tandem those ferocious deliveries. 

Chris Broad was caught out when he tried hitting Marshall for a six. But the most iconic wicket was the one when Graeme Fowler was gone for a one-handed caught and bowled by Marshall whose left hand wasn’t functioning that day. He then proceeded to clean up the batsmen with three LBWs and two catches by the keeper Jeff Dujon. Malcolm Marshall finished with figures of 7/53 after bowling 26 overs with a single hand, and the pain in his left hand kept multiplying minute-by-minute.

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With only 128 runs to win, West Indies chased this comfortably and won the third Test too.

But, this is a tale of grit very less talked about. Those four runs scored by Marshall were perhaps more special than any other four in the history of cricket and those seven wickets were one of the best too. This West Indian team was filled with loads of passion and zeal for the game peppered with a great deal of badassery. And there was the Mighty Marshall, standing tall among all those West Indian greats.

To sum the performance in captain Lloyd’s words:

It was the greatest and the most courageous acts ever witnessed.

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