Sat, 19 Sep 2020

England trailed 1-0 in the three-match series heading into the final Test at The Oval in 1994.Devon Malcolm finished with figures of 9/57 in the Proteas' second innings to help England tie the series.His wicket of Hansie Cronje was a classic fast-bowler's dismissal.

"You guys are history".

It was with those chilling words that Devon Malcolm picked himself off the hard Oval pitch after a Fanie de Villiers bouncer had hit him squarely on the helmet.

With England trailing 1-0 in a three-match series going into the final Test in 1994, De Villiers and the Proteas had ignited a fire inside Malcolm and it would drive him on to one of the most devastating spells of fast bowling ever seen.

And when it was over, only Darryl Cullinan of all the South African batsmen could withstand his aggressive onslaught as the frighteningly quick Malcolm finished with the stellar figures of 9/57 in the Proteas' second innings to help England tie the series.

"I'm pretty easy going," Malcolm told The Independent in 2017.

"But even when Allan Donald, who's a good mate of mine, came up and asked me if I was okay [after I was hit], I swore at him and told him where to get off."

After a famous victory at Lords in the first Test and a draw in the second, South Africa knew that if they didn't lose the last Test, they would secure their first Test series win in England in 29 years.

Kepler Wessels won the toss and elected to bat with a fine 93 from Brian McMillan forming the backbone of their first innings total of 332. Malcolm only managed one wicket in that innings, but he showed signs of what was to come when he hit Jonty Rhodes (8) on the helmet, forcing him to retire hurt. England replied with 304 with Malcolm struck in return by De Villiers who wanted revenge for Rhodes.

And then the carnage started.

Malcolm lived up to his earlier promise, bowling with pace and aggression. He soon reduced the Proteas to 1 for 3 in their second innings with Gary Kirsten (0), Peter Kirsten (1) and Hansie Cronje (0) all falling to the fire-up quick.

"This wicket of Hansie Cronje was a classic fast-bowler's dismissal. I worked him out with some serious bouncers and then got him with one that shot through before he could bring his bat down," Malcolm told Cricinfo in an interview years later.

Wessels and Cullinan brought some hope to Proteas supporters by putting on 70 for the fourth wicket before Malcolm returned to remove the Proteas' captain for 28. Cullinan found another willing partner in McMillan (25) but after he was caught in the slips, little resistance was offered by the Proteas' batsmen. Dave Richardson (3), Craig Matthews (0), Rhodes (10) and Allan Donald (0) all fell to rampant Malcolm.

Cullinan (94), the only batsman to cope with the pace onslaught, was the eighth wicket to fall, removed by Malcolm's opening bowling partner, Darren Gough. The Proteas had only managed 175 which left England 204 to win.

With momentum now firmly in their favour, they cantered home by eight wickets to tie up the series, 1-1. Graham Hick led the charge with 81* at a run-a-ball with support from Michael Atherton (63).

Malcolm won the man of the match award and perhaps Cullinan summed up the fast bowler's efforts best when he told Cricinfo: "The bottom line is, it was a real privilege to have watched that performance, that pace. It was one of the great moments in cricket."

Malcolm never reached those lofty heights again but for that innings at the Oval he was virtually unplayable.

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