Courtney soldiers on (4 June 1999)

4 June 1999

Courtney soldiers on

Tony Cozier

At 36, he is as good as he was at 26, arguably even better, so retirement isn't yet a word in Courtney Walsh's vocabulary.

After his third, all-too-brief World Cup, in which he was the most effective of all the bowlers, Walsh hinted yesterday that a return to England with the West Indies next summer for the Test series at the age of 37, was a distinct possibility. It would be his fifth tour here.

Walsh said his split with English county, Gloucestershire, for whom he played for 14 years, gave him an expected release to continue his career for the West Indies.

"It was on the cards when I was going to sign for two years with Gloucestershire this season that I wouldn't be playing any more international cricket," he explained on the Sky Sports television World Cup Centre programme.

"I had a very good series in South Africa and (against Australia) in the Caribbean and I've now got the option of getting the highest number of Test wickets," he said. "I would have been satisfied with 400 but I have the chance of getting past two greats bowlers, Sir Richard Hadlee and Kapil Dev." With 423 wickets in 110 Tests, Walsh is eight short of New Zealand's Hadlee and 11 away from India's Kapil Dev who took 434 wickets in his 131 Tests.

Walsh noted that it was the first time since 1984 he would not be playing in the English season, either for Gloucestershire or the West Indies.

"Now I've got a rest so I may be fresh for England next year," he added.

The West Indies do not have an international engagement until December in New Zealand where they have two Tests and five One-day Internationals. They return home in January for the domestic Busta Cup followed by series against New Zealand (two Tests) and Pakistan (three Tests) and a three-way tournament of ODIs.

Walsh's value was emphasised in the Tests in South Africa, where he took 22 wickets in four at an average of 19.09, and against Australia in the Caribbean where his return was 26 wickets at 22.26, also in four Tests.

In each case, he bowled more than any other West Indian.

Acknowledging that One-day cricket was "for young people", he voluntarily withdrew during the home series against England last year. But his experience of English conditions promoted his recall and he demonstrated his continuing class with 11 wickets in the West Indies' five first round matches at an average of 9.81 and an economy rate of 2.29 runs an over, both less than anyone else in the tournament.

The West Indies' elimination at the preliminary stage would have come as a great disappointment. But Walsh accepted reality.

"Our fate was in our our hands," he said. "Overall, we just didn't come up with the goods." "That 110 against Australia (in the final match) just wasn't good enough," he added. "If we'd got 160 to 170, it would have meant Australia had to up their run-rate and that New Zealand would have to have played out of their skins to go past that."

"I don't like leaving our fate in someone else's hands and New Zealand were always going to get the 120-odd in 21 overs they needed against Scotland."

Obviously, another batting failure caused the demise. But Walsh did not go along with the widely held theory.

"A lot of people complain that Brian Lara is a one-man batting team but we have enough batting," he said. "Phil Simmons was coming at No.7, with five One-day International hundreds, so we've got depth in our batting."

It was an argument that was not supported by the evidence but Walsh was never one to blame his teammates.

Source :: The Trinidad Express