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November 16, 2005
Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee, two of the most exciting fast bowlers on the world scene, do not earn any high marks in his book, says Joel Garner, the former West Indian bowling icon.
Speaking to BBC Sport, Garner was circumspect when talking about Akhtar and Lee finding a place in a World XI picked by him. "I don't think either Akhtar or Lee would deserve a place," he said. "I want people who are going to get wickets for me. I want fellows who are going to be consistent, not the ones who are more concerned about speed."
Garner, a key component of the battery of West Indies fast bowlers who swept all before them in the 1980s, admitted that their success did not lie in pace alone. "In our time, we were always interested in efficiency and performance, and not speed."
Akhtar, the first bowler to break the 100mph barrier, took just three wickets in England's first inning in the Test currently being played at Multan, while Lee rocked the West Indies in the first Test at Brisbane with 5 for 30 on the fourth day. But Garner, who took 259 Test wickets in 58 matches, described Glenn McGrath as the best pace bowler in world cricket today. "He's the oldest of the lot, yet he's been the most effective," he argued. "The irony is that people have long been caught up in the argument about who's the fastest bowler. And I find it absolutely unnecessary."
Garner has clearly put an emphasis on consistency over speed. "It's high time we started judging a fast bowler on what he's worth. The team's performance should be more important than bowling the fastest delivery in the world."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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