India v West Indies, 3rd Test, Mumbai November 21, 2011

Sammy hints at four-pronged pace attack

ESPNcricinfo staff

There was an interesting picture taken during West Indies' training session on Sunday afternoon that captured the divide between the glory of the past and the uncertainty of the current team. The focus was Courtney Walsh, the former West Indies fast bowler and legend, dressed casually in a grey T-shirt and jeans; he stood with Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain, Fidel Edwards and Kemar Roach. His left palm was turned upwards as if asking a casual question but his long fingers pointed directly at Edwards as if to say "are you ready to step up the plate?"

Edwards, with 50 Tests and 152 Test wickets, is leader of the Caribbean pace pack which includes Roach, Ravi Rampaul and Sammy. Yet, Edwards has just three wickets so far in the two Tests he has played while Rampaul and Roach, who have played one match each, have only a couple of victims each to their credit. Sammy, much slower in pace, has been the best seam bowler for the visitors with seven wickets.

Edwards and co. could cite the slowness of the surface in Delhi and its flatness in Kolkata. Now they're at the Wankhede, where the last five matches have produced results; the pitch has always offered the fast men good bounce and is likely to be the most supportive for fast bowlers among the three venues in this series. Keeping that in mind, Sammy hinted that that West Indies may field all their three main fast bowlers- a quartet with him included. It lacks the teeth of the great Caribbean quartets but it is a credible option for West Indies in their efforts to avoid a 3-0 whitewash, their first in six years.

"That's something we are looking at," Sammy said when asked about the likelihood of fielding a seam attack. "Throughout the Test series, the pacers have been the ones getting the wickets for us. We will look at that and hopefully we could come up with the right XI to at least salvage a draw or a win here."

Walsh, who had 43 wickets in seven Tests in India, at an average of 18.55 including three five-fors, gave his heirs some tips to succeed;. Fast bowling is akin to marathon running, he told them; you can't sprint all the time. To exercise control over the batsman you need to remain patient. You can't just be aggressive all the time especially on unresponsive tracks.

"Courtney always has some advice and he is always willing to share his experiences with the team," Sammy said. "Yesterday I think while chatting he said to the bowlers that we have got to be more patient. He told Fidel to take the lead that sometimes it's not about getting a wicket every ball and that he has to be patient."

Sammy said Edwards was happy to chat with a stalwart like Walsh. "Fidel agreed, and, so far yesterday and today he's been focusing on being patient in the nets and looking to lead the attack," Sammy said. "It's always good when you have former players passing on their knowledge and that's something we always welcome."

According to Sammy, the bounce on the practice pitches was encouraging, something he hopes from the actual match pitch. "There's been something in it for the fast bowlers and the batsmen seem to be playing their shots."

Regardless of the state of the pitch, Sammy also had a word of advice for his bowlers. "If our bowlers decide to bowl short, bowl bouncers, they could get something out of the wicket. We saw in the Caribbean when we were aggressive at the Indian batsmen, although Sachin, Sehwag and Gambhir were not present, when we bowled short we created some opportunities. Let's hope it's a good wicket where there is something in it for the bowlers and batsmen."

Even if it is not to their expectations they have the Walsh formula to fall back on.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hildreth on November 22, 2011, 3:41 GMT

    WALSH should be hired as Windies bowling CONSULTANT to pass on his tremendous knowledge and know-how to our bowlers. I think the 4 pronged seam attack is not a bad idea but not at the expense of Bishoo. You must have a genuine spinner to exploit a crumbling wicket and avoid a one-dimensional attack that will be massacred by the Indian batsmen once fatigue sets in.The team SELECTORS would have to consider dropping Brathwaite for this game and opening with Kirk Edwards and Barath in order to play the additional bowler. I agree that Rampaul tires quickly after his first spell so should be used only in short spells of 4 or 5 overs max. He and Sammy are our most accurate bowlers. Roach and Edwards are quick but should be more patient and bowl more consistently on or about off stump using bouncers and yorkers as surprise weapons. Sammy needs to rediscover his OUT- SWINGERS that fetched him 7 English wickets on debut. Also Fidel. THE INDIANS PREFER THE BALL SWINGING IN THAN SWINGING AWAY.

  • L on November 22, 2011, 2:06 GMT

    way to go courteny...ask to bend back of your fast bowlers, Indians will crumble for have nothing to lose...

  • Dummy4 on November 22, 2011, 1:27 GMT

    Metman knows nothing about cricket. where has he been the past ten years when all those players he mentioned were in the team and losing?? probably in the clouds....

  • Srinivas on November 22, 2011, 1:23 GMT

    Bishoo is too good a spinner to be dropped. And, above all, he seems to have Sachin's number. If he can prevent Sachin from getting to a century in this test and IF Sachin doesn't play in the ODIs in this series, then that in itself will be a huge baggage for India in Australia. Sachin's and his fanatics' preoccupation with his useless personal landmark will be a huge negative point for India in Australia just as it was in England. Sammy and the Windies thinktank are losing a plot or two here if they drop Bishoo. Australia will be keenly looking forward for Sachin to not to get to a century in the ongoing series.

  • Sam` on November 22, 2011, 0:48 GMT

    Why does the best combination not include the best bowler (statistically) the West Indies have got? FOR GOODNESS SAKE, GET OVER IT!!!! He isn't fast, and yes he is captain in the absence of a better cricketer. BUT HE IS THE BEST PERFORMED WEST INDIES BOWLER ON THIS TRIP AND THIS YEAR.

  • Dummy4 on November 22, 2011, 0:33 GMT

    The Windies need to play 5 bowlers as they are not bowling India Out. 4 man pace attack on unresponsive pitches will mean the bowlers getting tired out and Sammy unable to rotate the bowling around because of the 4 man pace attack. Samuels can't hold an end up like a specialist spinner. Bishoo or most probably Benn needs to play with 4 bowlers. The batsmen and Baugh need to take more responsibility.

    My bowlers for the Windies for this match would be...

    Sammy Benn Rampul Edwards Roach

  • Dummy4 on November 22, 2011, 0:27 GMT

    Sammy is the leading wicket taker for us and you all still want him out of the team. Man you got to be dreaming.

  • PATRICK on November 22, 2011, 0:01 GMT

    @zico123 I agree with you. I have the same argument when people say we need to play 5 specialist bowlers (including Sammy) - If 4 specialist bowlers (and Samuels) can't do the job, then 5 wont either. And why are India only playing 2 pacemen? Do they not know something about their own pitch and conditions? It would be ludicrous leaving out a specialist spinner like Bishoo - the pitch also changes during a Test match. If they don't play a spinner, then they wont be able to exploit that option when it arises.

  • Dummy4 on November 21, 2011, 22:54 GMT

    OK... it is true that Sammy is not a very fast bowler and I am not a big Sammy fan. However, I dont understand why some people continue to beat up on him even in this series when he is the leading wicket taker among the seam bowlers and when he is making a contribution with the bat. He must be doing something right.

    I am beginning to think that there is much more to these attacks than we see on the surface.

  • Michael on November 21, 2011, 22:47 GMT

    @Riad Hosein: no need to shout, mate. And Sammy may not be fast but, as the article says, he's been the side's best bowler in the series - by some stretch. Two spinners may be an option if the pitch warrants it, but WI's leading spinner is averaging 65+ in the series, which isn't a compelling argument against the four-pace option.

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