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Phil Walker

The Definitive: Devon Malcolm

Phil Walker by Phil Walker

Express paceman and cult hero Devon Malcolm speaks to Phil Walker and picks out his career-defining moments.

THE BOYCOTT SCALP
Making waves | Yorkshire XI v Yorkshire Select XI, 1984

I wasn’t your typical academy cricketer – I was 19 and hadn’t played cricket for a while after moving to England from Jamaica at the age of 17. I was playing sporadically in the Sheffield Leagues and attending college when I was selected to play against a Yorkshire XI. I took the Friday off school and played against the likes of Martyn Moxon and Geoff Boycott. In my first over I clean bowled Moxon and then did exactly the same to Boycott, both with in-swinging yorkers. It was the first time a select XI had beaten a proper Yorkshire team.

THE DENTIST
5-52 & 2-51 | Derbyshire 2nd XI v Leicestershire 2nd XI, 2nd XI Championship, Leicester, 1984

After bowling Boycott on the Friday, I was offered a pro contract with Derbyshire on the Monday. It all happened so quickly. In my first year I played a lot of 2nd XI cricket and this game stands out for me in particular. I was bowling really fast and sent down a bouncer at this guy – blood and teeth were everywhere. I was seen as a natural talent from that moment on and I was laying down a marker, because I bowled quickly.

THE FIRST FIVE-FER
5-42 & 4-91 | Derbyshire v Gloucestershire, County Championship, Gloucester, 1986

I’d taken a lot of five-wicket hauls for the 2nd XI but this was the first time I took a first-class five-fer. It gave me a huge amount of confidence and I remember we won the game against the likes of Courtney Walsh and Andy Stovold. From that moment on, my mentality was: you’ve done it once, now you can do it again.

THE CHEMIST
1-49 & 4-77 | England v West Indies, 1st Test, Jamaica, 1990

I’d made my England debut against Australia the previous summer, mainly thanks to the South African rebel tours, and from there I went on the West Indies tour. The crowd at Sabina Park were laying into me and I understood every word having grown up in Jamaica, so it really hurt. In response I trapped their hero Sir Viv Richards lbw and after that they were silent. Then in the second innings I got him again! This time clean bowled. From then on the press in the West Indies called me ‘The Chemist’, saying I had the formula to get the Master Blaster out.

THE TRINIDAD TEN-FER
4-60 & 6-77 | England v West Indies, 3rd Test, Trinidad, 1990

It was in that same series I got my first ever 10-fer. I look at this game and think, ‘How didn’t we win it?’ We had them 50-5 in the first innings and Gus Logie was dropped by Wayne Larkins and went on to make 98. We could have had them out for 90 but they ended up getting about 200. We were 70-1 needing only around 150 – not a cloud in the sky when we were doing the warm-ups. Then, as soon as we came off ready to start, a big cloud came over… We could have gone 2-0 up in the series, but it just rained and rained.

THE AUSSIE TEAR UP
3-86 & 3-84 | England v Australia, 6th Test, The Oval, 1993

I wasn’t a regular in the England side and only played in the final Test at The Oval. It was the quickest I’ve ever bowled. There is a certain time where everything just clicks. The vibe, the rhythm and the concentration, it was all there. When you’re not on form the ball seems like a football, but when you are in good form you can do anything with it. I remember guys like Michael Slater, whom I bounced out, just couldn’t handle anything short of a length.

THE ‘HISTORY’ BOY
1-81 & 9-57 | England v South Africa, 3rd Test, The Oval, 1994

This was the one. My best figures in Test cricket. That first ball to [Gary] Kirsten… if there was ever a ball you wanted to be the right pace, direction, position, everything… this was the ball that made me realise there is a zone, and I’d found it. After that, every time I ran in it was so quiet, a little bit of muttering was heard, but I just knew it was something special. I ended up with the fourth-best bowling figures by an Englishman of all time and the best by a quick bowler. At the time I was ignorant to the whole thing but Michael Atherton came up to me and said, ‘Well done, Dev. Do you realise what you’ve just done?’ I said, ‘It’s my intention every time but it won’t mean a thing if we don’t get these runs.’ We did, and that was the main thing.

THE SYDNEY SIX
29, 2-34 & 1-75 | England v Australia, 3rd Test, Sydney, 1995

Australia were 2-0 up in the series but this match was good for me for two reasons. I got my 100th Test wicket, bowling Michael Slater, and I also made my highest Test score of 29. One particularly memorable shot was hitting Shane Warne out of the ground for six with a bat that I had borrowed that was covered in stickers!

THE ONE-DAY MASTERCLASS
7-35 | Derbyshire v Northamptonshire, NatWest Trophy, Derby, 1997

I remember this game well, my best bowling figures in one-day cricket. It was a game we won convincingly [by 144 runs]. I didn’t play many games for England in one-day internationals – only about 10 matches – and it was a shame really because if I was playing nowadays I would play a lot more. I averaged below 30 and, in my opinion, I was a lot better at one-day cricket.

THE SWANSONG
8-63 & 2-124 | Leicestershire v Surrey, County Championship, Leicester, 2001

I was 40 and in my penultimate season with Leicestershire. I bowled really well, getting an eight-fer against Surrey. I was enjoying my cricket and for a 40-year-old to get those kind of figures was great. I was swinging the ball and it was the best bowling figures I could have imagined being the age I was. I felt by that point I was keeping youngsters out of the team but I was definitely enjoying playing because I was doing so well for myself and for the county.

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Have Your Say

Comment (1)

  1. steve welfare 3 years ago (Edit)

    Dev - what a star. I recall watching him bowl at the Oval, where the pace and bounce suited him. A proper fast bowler he really tore them up. Happy days, thanks Devon.

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