Cricketers pick their favourites

'He was really good at figuring you out'

Part eight: Allan Donald on the most intimidating bowlers he has seen: this time, Courtney Walsh the workhorse

Produced by: Gokul Chakravarthy; Interviewer: Nagraj Gollapudi

July 2, 2013


Courtney Walsh

'He was really good at figuring you out'

July 2, 2013

Courtney Walsh took two wickets in the first innings, Australia v West Indies, 4th Test, 2nd day, December 27, 2000
Walsh let his actions speak for him © Getty Images

Courtney Walsh was similar in height to Curtly Ambrose. Obviously, again a guy who wasn't express pace, but a very tall West Indian who had these eyes - they were angry eyes. Once those eyes start to tell a story and he gets a sniff, no one gets close. You talk about the Marshalls, Ambrose, etc - my goodness, you put them together and you have those guys coming from both ends, it wasn't pleasant. You would start sweating.

You had Ambrose at one end, Courtney Walsh at the other, nine overs apiece from both of them, and I think the score was 24 for 1 after 16 overs once. That's how impressive those two were.

There was a Test at Old Trafford I watched between West Indies and England, where he had a really good run-in with Nasser Hussain. He ended up almost right inside the grill of Nasser Hussain. He was that close. To be fair, Nasser didn't take a backward step. Walsh tried to stare him down and there was a little smile underneath the helmet from Nasser. I think a couple of balls later, Walsh bowled the most beautiful slower ball, which just sort of dipped on Nasser and dismissed him.

Walsh was also a man of very few words. He let his actions speak for him. I think the admiration for me was how they went about their business. They were not big sledgers, Ambrose and Walsh. It was just his presence that did it.

Walsh also bowled an ugly bouncer.

I loved the stage that they put themselves on, because they were actors on that stage. That, for me, was the most intimidating thing. The more I looked at those guys, the more I learnt from them, the more I wanted to be as ruthless as them, because that's what they put on the line. That's how much it meant, running through batting line-ups. When they were on, they were the best in the world without a question.

One would probably argue that Courtney wasn't in the same bracket as those other West Indian bowlers, but he bowled a million overs, he was a workhorse. He was very skilful in adapting to certain lengths. He wasn't your out-and-out guy who would bowl you short balls. He was really, really good at sussing you out, really figuring you out. That, for me, is why he is a very intimidating character.

The partnership between Walsh and Ambrose was intimidating. It wasn't great watching players trying to get through the new ball against those two. Waqar and Wasim and Ambrose and Walsh - it was pace against their height and bounce. Ambrose and Walsh were not slow, but it was the ugly length they bowled and the bounce that they got on any surface that made them dangerous.

Posted by harshthakor on (July 4, 2013, 8:43 GMT)

We will remember Walsh for not only the grace he exhibited on the cricket field but his grace as a human being overall.He never had a bad word for everyone and was always a gentleman.His act of sportsmanship in the 1987 world cup will be written in cricket annals forever.He was a sight to behold when bowling with his smooth action.Simply pace bowling's marathon man.

Posted by harshthakor on (July 4, 2013, 8:39 GMT)

Courtney Walsh is one of cricket's most sporting icons.What I will remember him most is for his great sportsmanship against Pakistan in the 1987 reliance world cup when he gave Salim Jaffer a warning for being out of the crease with 4 runs needed of just 2 deliveries which cost his team victory.It was lesson for everyone in sport,where sportsmanship was placed above mere winning.

Overall Walsh was fast bowling's ultimate metronome.No paceman posessed Walsh's reserves of stamina.Above all he may have lacked the pace of an Alan Donald but compensated for that with his great guile and ability to angle the ball coming into the batsmen and make the ball straighten.He could also generate awkward,deceptive bounce and swing the ball.At his best he could be more lethal than partner Curtly with his great bowling intelligence.In 1987-88 and in 1994 in India on docile surfaces he was head and shoulders above any of his bowling compatriots.

One of the game's most loved characters.

Posted by Game_Gazer on (July 4, 2013, 5:33 GMT)

wicked bouncer, most beautiful slower-one, deadly leg-cutter and in-cutters...ability to figure batsmen out after just an over..and terrific sportsman's spirit...Courtney Walsh is a true champion fast bowler one feared facing...his bowling in England towards his career's end was a treat !!

Posted by typos on (July 2, 2013, 22:43 GMT)

@Wasti, I saw a lot of Walsh live as I'm from TnT; he means a lot to us. In the Caribbean the feeling that he replaced Croft was due to his ability to bowl big leg cutters at high pace; this was evident to us from watching him in the Shell Shield (our local 4 day competition). They had tried Milton Small before Walsh who did not cut it. At one point, Bishop moved ahead of Walsh for his ability to bowl leg cutters at pace. But, the character and fitness of Walsh came through. Even when he 'slowed down', he was still bowling faster than Mervyn Dillon (I saw that, I was there). Even when Lara became captain for the first time, he insisted Walsh remain for as long as possible even though he was poor in the field and with the bat because of his worth with the ball. Notice also I said in my post 'in my opinion'.

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 17:30 GMT)

@ Typos - Croft last played for the West Indies during the 1981-82 Australian tour. Walsh did not arrive until the next test tour of the West Indies to Australia three years later by which time Croft had already gone for big bucks and joined the South African tour party. Walsh was genuinely fast but not as quick as some of the other bowlers. He did hurt a lot of batsmen though.

Posted by EdwinD on (July 2, 2013, 15:59 GMT)

What stands out from these articles frm Donald is the humility of the man. He was certainly up there with the best bowlers of the 90's.

Anderson is so hyped up these days due to the lack of quality pace bowlers around (which is not Anderson's fault) - but he wouldn't get into the top 10 pace bowlers of the 90's.

Posted by millerej11 on (July 2, 2013, 14:59 GMT)

ThirteenthMan: One thing Allan Donald's videos emphasize is that fast bowling, and the intimidation that goes with it, is as much about brain as brawn. A brainless fast bowler quickly gets carted around the park. As for removing "intimidation": read "Beyond a Boundary" and Hilary Beckles "Liberation Cricket" for the politics of the sport in the WI. Holding, Marshall, Walsh, and Ambrose dominating first Australia (who had disparaged them in 1976 and before) and then Tony Grieg's England team and during the Blackwash tours brought succour to huge numbers of the West Indian diaspora; and the urgency with which Ambrose and Walsh determined that South Africa just could not be allowed to win a test on reinstatement against a team of individuals who just months before would not have been allowed them to play in the same club, was a clear political statement of the dignity and status of people of color. Intimidating fast bowling goes back to Bodyline (also political). It's part of the game

Posted by   on (July 2, 2013, 14:08 GMT)

Another gr8 duo of Walsh and Ambrose////

Posted by davent on (July 2, 2013, 13:12 GMT)

Thirteenth man, why don't you watch another sport, perhaps lawn bowls. Fast bowling against skill full batsman, is why I love test cricket, the bowler works to a plan, its not working, he starts to try other things, including mind games, he gets tired and aggresion is all he has left, speed ,bounce, then back off and bowl a slower ball, short outside stuff, bring on fast and furious bowlers, I love it!

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