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Re: Dawid Malan memories
Posted by: Andrew Dow
Date: 08/11/2019 19:59
There was that meticulous marking out of his guard, when Dawid came in, the confirmatory holding up of his preferred stump for the Umpire to confirm, and then he would settle, so still while the bowler approached.

From the stands, he exuded this air of calmness, yet slightly intense languidity. He always seemed to have so much time in hand as the ball came down. His batting - for me - was just a notch away from the utter grace of Gower, but I have not seen another lefthander come as close to matching Gower's beautiful languid grace. Like him, Dawid did not hit the ball to the cover boundary, he persuaded or caressed it. The ball always went along the ground, the fielders with very little chance of intercepting it, and were just reduced to trotting after it.

So many times, I thought the ball had beaten him, yet, at the last minute down it came and the fortress was once again secure.

There was a lovely, almost apologetic, understated, demeanour about him out in the middle with his pads on. A reluctant yet strangely resolute presence, whom you could assail, try to ruffle, beat outside off stump for as many balls as you liked, but as soon as you missed line or length, he'd seen it, selected his shot, and that was it, you'd still end up in the book showing as gone for 4 that over. Perhaps he didn't see what we saw in him as such a class act.

Once I was able too watch him play for England on tv, I was very surprised to see how hard he was talking to himself, muttering his mantras, or whatever it was that he did as the bowler ran in. He seemed so intense, by comparison with his outward demeanour.

Like a lot of people who really can see the ball early, they can play it so late. Sitting up in the Nursery end, Dawid faced bowling from the Pavillion, a seamer came in, two / three slips waiting, and sent one down. As you will recall, Dawid stood with bat raised. This time, he seemed to be still bringing his bat down from where he had raised it, so as to play a stroke, yet there the ball was, bissecting slip and gully, running to the ropes, and quite obviously placed there, with minimal effort. Nothing anyone could do about it, but fetch it. I thought him beaten by similar balls, yet they ended up down at third man on frequent occasions.

And then, on one September evening, out of the Pavillion strolled our own cool hand Luke, his team at 2-2, needing snookers, miracles and a whole lot more, and from then on, it just got better.

The wicket eased out, or perhaps, better batsmen were in and, then, to quote Duncan Hamilton, "Malan is detecting anything a millimetre wide or wayward, as though his retinas are radar. One drive off Ryan Sidebottom, also through point, is savagely good. Another, taking a big stride forward, is sumptuously attractive".

"Gubbins and Malan pass seminal stages of the innings, overtaking Yorkshire's lead, reaching their hundred partnership, and moving on".......... and that's the way they made it. If you listen to the Sky commentary, they too had worked out that Dawid and Gubbo had achieved the impossible, taken the sting out of the match, and made it ours to win.

Speaking to him later that evening, telling him I so loved watching him bat, and how graceful he looked; he thanked me so graciously that it seemed that I was the one doing him the favour.

He and a few others gave me that amazing day, that I will never forget.

No backward glances - just like when he was out. The good times far outweigh the bad, and you could always look forward to the next time pure grace would walk out to bat.

I feel right now as if we could go out and hammer the best Test attack in the world for 650, and declare, but I'd feel it was incomplete without one of those beautiful flowing drives that we could all just savour, enjoy and feel nourished by.

Good luck, Dawid. Thanks for travelling with us.

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