Marshall: “Everything just seems to be going down the drain. There is no respect, no manners. It’s embarrassing…..”
Malcolm Denzil Marshall, the great Barbados and West Indies fast bowler, was a “straight talker”. He died on November 4, 1999 at the age of 41 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital following a battle with colon cancer.
As promised last week, here is Part 2 of my column on the 20th anniversary of his passing. It includes excerpts of the strong sentiments Marshall expressed in an in-depth, exclusive with this columnist in April 1992, following his retirement from international cricket the previous month after the fifth World Cup tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
There are also comments from those who spoke glowingly of Marshall’s life and cricketing career just after his death and at his funeral, which was held on November 14, 1999 at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, Wildey, St. Michael, with the burial at St. Bartholomew Church in Christ Church.
In his no-nonsense style, Marshall lashed out at the management of the West Indies team for treatment meted out to him during his last series, as well as the behaviour of some players.
He famously said: “Everything just seems to be going down the drain. There is no respect, no manners. It’s embarrassing so I just thought the time was right that I stopped playing. I was not enjoying it. I always said once I was playing cricket, regardless of who I am playing for, if I am not enjoying it, I will stop.”
Following are excerpts of that interview, which was carried in three Parts in the Sunday Sun and NATION newspapers.
HOLDER: Your retirement from international cricket, announced officially after the World Cup, came to many as a surprise, a bit prematurely. What prompted you to make the decision?
MARSHALL: Well, obviously after the last Test series in England (1991), I was giving a lot of thought about actually quitting but a lot of people who are close to me told me to continue; why should I stop if I am enjoying it and performing well.
I had a good World Series Cup. I wasn’t 100 per cent satisfied with everything that went on but that’s life, and during the World Cup, as was said in the papers by the manager (Deryck Murray) and captain (Richie Richardson) that I had an ankle injury, which I didn’t …. I was dropped. I thought it was very bad of them to say that, so I came out and told the public that I wasn’t injured.
I think to play for 14 years and being one of the most senior players in the team apart from Desmond Haynes, to be treated the way I was treated was unbelievable. They didn’t actually include me in many things apart from team meetings. The majority of times I felt left out. I played under Clive Lloyd, who was a great leader and set a great example.
Everything just seems to be going down the drain. There is no respect, no manners. It’s embarrassing so I just thought the time was right that I stopped playing. I was not enjoying it. I always said once I am playing cricket, regardless of who I am playing for, if I am not enjoying it, I will stop.
HOLDER: How did you take the news of your omission?
MARSHALL: I got left out against India and I felt badly about it but then I said to myself ‘fair enough’. Then we played Sri Lanka followed by a very vital game against Australia whom I have done exceptionally well against and I wasn’t even thought about in the selection. My name did not come up.
I don’t think I was doing that badly that I could not have played and when I started to bowl well is when they left me out.
HOLDER: Did the manager or captain officially inform you about your exclusion?
MARSHALL: We had a game against New Zealand and after the match one or two things were said and they asked me what I thought. They then asked me how my ankle was and I said it wasn’t bad.
My ankle was giving me a little problem earlier on but I wasn’t injured. I was just strapping it as a precaution to make sure I did not damage it. They obviously wanted to leave me out sooner or later and I guess the time was right and they did it.
The greatest cricketer who has ever lived, Sir Garfield Sobers, got dropped. I am not saying that I am a Sir Garfield. There is nothing wrong with being dropped. It is a sport you are playing so obviously sooner or later if you are not performing well you should be dropped but to tell the public that I was injured when I wasn’t, I thought was very distasteful.
HOLDER: You ended with 376 Test wickets, which make you the leading West Indies wicket-taker. With your 34th birthday on April 18, the first day of a historic first ever Test against South Africa at Kensington Oval, was it a difficult decision to retire?
MARSHALL: I guess it was. I wanted to play against South Africa in Barbados. It would have been historic but I wasn’t enjoying it and the way things are going, I couldn’t actually see them changing and I just don’t want to be playing cricket for money sake in terms of the West Indies. It was the right time for me to finish.
COMMENTS FROM FRIENDS AND TEAMMATES
From the Murray brothers, David and Michael, with whom he grew up in Station Hill, St. Michael and played cricket at one level or another, to his very last West Indies captain Richie Richardson, glowing tributes continued to flow in for Marshall at his funeral.
With sadness etched on their faces and emotion choking their voices, they all reminisced on the life of Marshall, who touched the lives of all and sundry on and off the cricket field.
“It’s sad,” said David “Tough” Murray, the former Barbados and West Indies wicket-keeper/batsman. “We have lost a great young man. He will be sadly missed. He learned quickly. He loved the game from small. He was a student of the game. That’s why he became so great.
“I think my brother (Michael) and I did a lot for him. We actually raised him and took him to clubs because we saw the talent in him from early.
“It was great a see him as a yute (youth). We lived just a couple houses apart. With the enthusiasm … I always knew he would have made it. We were very good friends and kept friendly until his death,” David Murray said.
Michael Murray, himself, a former wicket-keeper/batsman in local club cricket, remembered the years he spent with Marshall in Station Hill and also at the Texaco Club where he was captain and Marshall played while still a student at Parkinson Secondary School.
“We recognised his talent. We lived in Station Hill about five houses apart and he used to travel with me to practice and to games. From the time he was a youngster he had the gift of listening. I think this is one of the things that helped him throughout his great career,” Michael Murray said.
Now, on the eve of Marshall’s funeral, I had the privilege of liming in Oistins Town, Christ Church, with the likes of Joel “Big Bird” Garner, Sir Vivian Richards (both former captains of Marshall at the regional and international level), Collis King and John Shepherd, who were former Barbados and West Indies players.
“I was having a relaxing time in that sense because that’s what it’s like. Joel said these are the things which they used to do in the past,” Richards said at a bar in Oistins.
Then, moments before entering the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium for the funeral service, Richards remarked: “I would like to remember him personally as the individual when I am standing at slip and his witty way of thinking things and working them out. I most certainly will remember when he used to call me down from the slips to come and have a chat with him because he just found something that he believed could work. He gave you that hope. I would like to remember him for giving me the strength and determination as a player, just not on the field but off it as well and to have the feeling that you are trying to achieve something, and one aim and one goal for everything that involved Caribbean people.”
Sylvester Clarke, a former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler, who died one month after Marshall on December 4, following a brief illness one week short of his 45th birthday, spoke of the era when he played with Marshall at the regional ad international level.
“He was a great fast bowler and a bad loss to cricket. The way how Malcolm held the ball, it swung a lot and far, too, with pace. I don’t know where he learnt it from,” said Clarke, who often asked for a break to regain his composure during the interview.
At the graveside, Richie Richardson described Marshall as a “great thinker and probably the greatest artist we have produced”.
“I am lost for words really. I am very saddened about Malcolm’s death. Malcolm has done so much for cricket worldwide and the people of the Caribbean. We are just hoping that his legacy will stay with us for the rest of our lives and would have created a tremendous impact on West Indies cricket,” Richardson said.
In reaction to Part 1 of Remembering the Great Malcolm Marshall, I received an email from Maurice Morrison, his games master when he was at Parkinson School. Morrison had given Marshall five dollars to go to the Advocate newspaper for a photo, which appeared on the back page of the next day’s edition after he scored a wonderful century off my school Foundation, of which I was captain in the BCA Ronald Tree Cup Under-15 Championship at The Pine in 1972.
Morrison, who has been living in New York for 40 years, wrote: “Good Morning, Sir. I hope this correspondence does not shock you. Greetings from chilly New York. Yesterday (November 4) I posted on Facebook the fact that it was the 20th anniversary of Malcolm’s death. This morning I awoke to a link – from my daughter – to your article of our dear friend Malcolm Denzil Marshall.
“I know that over the years you maintained a bond with Malcolm and I am a bit surprised that you remember that he and I were very close. When I went to the World Cup final at Lord’s in 1979, he got me into the ground although it was sold out and several times took me into the West Indies dressing room at home and abroad. I still remember receiving calls from him from India, England and even Australia. I still chuckle when I remember him supplying me with equipment from Gray-Nicolls and the invoice read “Equipment for a cricketer!”
“I have always compared him to the greatest of them all, Sir Garfield Sobers, in that neither of them ever lost the common touch. They both reached the pinnacle, yet remained humble. Keep up the good work, Sir. Hopefully we can meet for a drink next time I am home. All the very best to you.” Maurice Morrison.
Well, Maurice, as I told you in my response, I am really touched by your email. I credit persons like you with playing such a vital role in Malcolm Marshall’s life.
Endless stories can be written and told about the great man, Malcolm Marshall. Never to be forgotten!
Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and International cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) Championship for over three-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org).Email: [email protected]