March 28, 2000

Walsh: Top of the world

With the Blue Mountains forming a backdrop, one of the West Indies' finest cricketing sons scaled the highest bowling mount in all cricketdom.

Courtney Andrew Walsh yesterday brought joy to the hearts of his Jamaica countrymen and all West Indians as he eclipsed Kapil Dev's world record of 434 Test wickets at Sabina Park.

The durable Walsh, a familiar face in the international cricket arena since 1984, became the toast of the cricketing world late on the fourth day of the second Test between West Indies and Zimbabwe.

Fellow Jamaican Wavel Hinds, fielding at short-leg, snapped up Zimbabwe tail-ender Henry Olonga, and Walsh promptly fell to the ground in relief, realising he had achieved the target.

He received an embrace from every single member of the West Indies team with long-time pace partner Curtly Ambrose looking especially delighted.

The 37-year-old Walsh tossed both arms in the air to a standing ovation from more than 5 000 exuberant Jamaicans in the stands.

A two for 46 return in the Zimbabwe first innings had kept Walsh well on course for the record and the removal of openers Trevor Gripper and Grant Flower just after lunch equalled Dev's achievement.

Walsh, who has taken ten wickets in a Test twice and five wickets in an innings on 17 occasions, broke the record on his 114th appearance for the West Indies.

Dev, who set the mark against Sri Lanka in February, 1994, sent a message to Walsh when his mark was matched.

'I am really pleased for Courtney. Anybody taking so many Test wickets has to be good ... and he is pretty good,' Dev, now India's team coach, said in a message beamed from Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates.