Book Review: Marshall Arts, by Malcolm Marshall

Updated: Feb 19

Marshall Arts, like Malcolm's life which was tragically cut short at age 41 due to Colon Cancer leaves you wanting more. At under 200 pages, this is a quick, short yet insightful look into the life of one of the premier fast bowlers in cricket history.

Malcolm would finish his test career with 376 test wickets to go with 1651 first-class wickets. He would be a mainstay in the formidable West Indian pace attack that ripped through world cricket in the 1980s, and play a huge part in Hampshire's history.

Like his electric bouncers that would terrify some of the best batsmen in the world, this book published in 1987, while Malcolm was still in his prime, doesn't pull any punches. I've often said that I'm not a fan of players publishing books while they're still playing. If you've read some of the England players autobiographies recently, you'll know why. They can be dull, bland and all too safe. You always get the impression that you're getting the censored version of events, Marshall Arts is the exact opposite.

Marshall takes aim and fires off a few shots, calling out the racist abuse he received at Headingly, the only such abuse he would experience in England. He criticised English county captains as being too negative, the Australians for lacking fight and heart, the English test team for having a defeatist attitude before they even set foot in the Caribbean. He criticised the English selectors, Indian and New Zealand umpires and called Pakistan "Dirty, unhygienic and very smelly". Although it's Indian batsmen Dilip Vengsarksr who Marshall singles out as his most disliked opponent, based on the batsmen's gamesmanship.

However, I don't want you to think that Marshall used this book as a way to air his gripes. He's complimentary throughout on teammates and opponents alike. His praise for David Gower and Ian Botham is glowing throughout. His self-awareness is obvious and although he was a confident man, as you'd expect from such a talent, he was gracious and grounded at the same time. He understood that constant work and improvement was needed to stay at the top, and that's exactly what he focused on. His love of the English county game is clear, his pride at representing Barbados and the West Indies seeps through the pages, and his desire to be the best is motivational.

It's a very interesting read as it covers multiple world cups and the West Indies rebel tour to South Africa, an event which helped Malcolm cement his place within the West Indies team, due to other players receiving bans for taking part. He reveals that he turned down $1 million to take part in the tour, and although it was hard at the time, he had his decision justified with his ascendency in international cricket.

Malcolm had a lot to offer, and it's a great loss to cricket that he was taken long before his time. His analytical and studious knowledge of the game would have been fascinating on TV commentary and invaluable for young players trying to make their name in the game. All in all, this is a really good read and refreshingly honest for a player penning it while still playing.


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