September 13, 2000

West Indies need Walsh says Baptiste

Staff and agencies

Courtney Walsh has received encouragement to continue playing Test cricket from a former teammate.

Eldine Baptiste, just 3 years Walsh's senior, has even suggested that Walsh may still be improving. "He's like a fine wine," says Baptise. "The older he gets the better he gets. I hope he plays against Australia as his bowling is improving with age."

With 34 wickets at 12.82 in the England series the 37 year old Walsh proved he still has plenty to offer at this level. He even produced an expertly disguised slower ball this summer to cause further problems for batsmen. But Baptiste has also suggested that West Indies need the giant Jamaican more than ever. "The young bowlers have not been coming to the party," Baptiste complained, "and the batting has not been coming through either. I believe they have to pick themselves up and play more positive and aggressive cricket. They seemed to be trying not to lose in England, not taking people on which is more in the nature of West Indies cricket."

The West Indies were over reliant on Walsh and Ambrose this summer, and Walsh may be mindful that without his long time partner (Ambrose retired after the Oval Test) the burden on him may prove intolerable. He will also be aware that the pitches in Australia are likely to be far less helpful than the damp English surfaces on which he caused such problems this summer. He may be tempted by the pleas of his teammates though, and the fact that he is just 17 victims away from the incredible 500 wicket mark.

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