Marshall wins online votes
Hampshire members have had the privilege of watching some of cricket’s all-time great players; from Sir Gordon Greenidge and Barry Richards to Robin Smith and Shane Warne.
But supporters, and former team-mates alike, are in agreement that a spot at the very top table is reserved for Malcolm Marshall.
In the past two weeks, Marshall has swept to victory in two online votes.
The West Indian fast bowler claimed 50 per cent of the vote, ahead of Smith, Richards and early 20th century run machine Phil Mead, to be named Hampshire’s ‘County Best’ on the ECB’s official County Championship Twitter feed.
That was followed soon after when, in a BBC poll, he was elected the county’s greatest overseas player as he swept aside Richards, Warne and compatriot Greenidge.
And all-rounder Tim Tremlett, who played alongside Marshall at Hampshire throughout the 1980s, is in agreement about his icon status.
He said: “He was extremely popular. He was well respected by his team-mates and opposition alike. Not just as a cricketer, but as a person.
“He was a joy to watch. He had a hunger for success, tremendous stamina. And he was genuinely fast. He could intimidate, although he never sledged, and was often unplayable.
“Maco could bowl in different conditions around the world and I can’t think of too many others who bowl fast and can swing the ball, cut the ball, move the ball at pace and be successful over a prolonged period of time.
“I think he's a one-off in many respects. There aren’t too many bowlers who are as skilful as he was and his record at Hampshire is unbeatable.”
Marshall spent 10 seasons at Hampshire between 1979 and 1993, only missing campaigns when West Indies toured England in 1984, 1988 and 1991.
‘Maco’ claimed 1,065 wickets in 426 matches and is one of only four fast bowlers to boast an average of under 20 in first-class cricket for the county, to go with 376 Test scalps.
But he was given the rudest possible awakening to life in England – a trip to Derby.
After jetting in from the sun-kissed beaches of his homeland in Barbados, he rushed from Heathrow for a mid-April Benson and Hedges Cup clash against Derbyshire.
“In those days at Derby, we used the changing rooms which had been used by jockeys at the old racecourse, which backed on to the ground,” Tremlett recounts.
“There were splinted floorboards, no real heating and it was absolutely freezing!
“Malcolm had just flown in from the West Indies and gone straight up to Derby and I remember him sitting in the corner literally shivering.”
Despite being under six-foot, Marshall consistently wound up deliveries over 90mph and regularly caused physical harm to batsmen around the world with his infamous skiddy bouncers.
But Hampshire’s squad were generally shielded from his brutality in training.
“He was always very generous to us in the nets,” said Tremlett. “He never really cranked it up as to bowl the speeds that he could.
“It was always interesting that when he wanted to get in some extra practice or prepare in a certain way for a match, he used to bowl against Gordon [Greenidge] in the nets. Then he would go off his full run.
“Immediately you could see the difference in how he went to his Test match level from county standard.
“When he was bowling full throttle at Gordon most of our batsmen didn’t fancy getting into the nets at the same time. We were grateful we were on his side!”
One aspect of Marshall which made him a consistent threat was his work-rate through both a season and a day’s play.
For example, in 1982 he bowled in excess of 1,000 overs across all formats and was rewarded with 160 wickets.
“He always tried his best, it didn't matter what the situation was,” Tremlett said.
“He often went off a run-up that was probably 30 yards in length. He would sprint in and gave his all whether it was 11am or 6:30pm - he loved the challenge.
“When everybody else was struggling, he seemed to come up with something.”
In an era where analysts weren’t a common sight in dressing rooms and video footage was scarce, Marshall was ahead of his time in the way he prepared for matches.
“He had a fantastic cricketing brain and logged everything like a computer,” Tremlett recounted.
“He knew how to bowl to different batsmen, he knew how to bowl on different surfaces and he would quickly work out how to get people out even if he hadn't seen them before.
“I remember when he was going off to India he managed to get hold of some videos of the top Indian batsman at the time, who he hadn’t bowled at before. He wanted to know how to bowl to them in a match situation.”
Marshall, who returned to Hampshire as a coach following his retirement, passed away in 1999 from colon cancer aged 41.
He has been immortalised by the club, with the road leading to the Ageas Bowl named Marshall Drive – in honour of him and namesake, and fellow Caribbean legend, Roy.
“He always loved the people and the members here, and they loved him,” Tremlett said.
“He was quick to acknowledge that Hampshire gave him a big opportunity and he always stayed in touch.
“Many eras come and go but he is still very much thought of by members and players.”