Friday, 7 September 2007

Greatest Test XI

To continue our Greatest Test XI of the last century we pick our number eight.

West Indies is regarded as the spiritual home of the fast bowler, so it is fitting that the man commonly regarded as their finest ever makes the Greatest Test XI. Malcolm Marshall was their finest quick during their 1980s heyday, seriously rapid, hostile and extremely consistent; but he complemented these gifts with subtlety and real cricketing intelligence.

He was a tremendously canny bowler, with the ability to swing the ball both ways and, later in his career, the purveyor of a fine legcutter. Though relatively small for a West Indian quick – 5ft11in – he still generated good bounce; and his mastery of the finer arts of seam-bowling ultimately separated him from his almost equally outstanding team-mates.

It speaks volumes for his adaptability that his impressive average of 22.5 against Australia was actually his highest against the five nations he played against; Marshall’s multifarious gifts were such that he simply excelled everywhere. However, it was perhaps England whom he saved his very best for, memorably claiming 7/22 at Old Trafford in 1988, on a wicket prepared for spin.

With the bat, Marshall was extremely talented; invariably willing to attack, he averaged 19 in Tests and also struck seven first-class hundreds, so he is worthy of the number eight spot in this side. The man with 376 Test wickets was, in the words of Mike Atherton, “the complete fast bowler”.

The side so far: Sutcliffe, Hutton, Bradman, Hammond, Sobers, Imran (captain), Gilchrist (wicket-keeper), Marshall

Share your views on the side by leaving a comment below.