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'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
'He was really good at figuring you out'July 2, 2013
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.
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