West Indies v India, 3rd Test, St Kitts, 5th day June 26, 2006

West Indian pace troika: A SWOT analysis

Ian Bishop, the former West Indian fast bowler, assesses the three West Indian quicks who bowled in St Kitts



Everything his captain wanted: After his three wickets in six balls Jerome Taylor with an euphoric Brian Lara © Getty Images

The West Indies relied on three specialist fast bowlers for the third Test against India at St Kitts. On a pitch described as flat and unhelpful to pace, they went with Pedro Collins, Corey Collymore and Jerome Taylor. The faster trio of Fidel Edwards, Tino Best and Jermaine Lawson did not play. Ian Bishop, the former West Indian fast bowler, made this assessment of the three who did, picking out their strengths and weaknesses and explaining what makes each a valuable addition to the pack.

Jerome Taylor

Strength:

If you compare Jerome Taylor with Tino Best, Jermaine Lawson and Fidel Edwards, those guys have raw pace that they can use as a weapon, whereas Jerome is quick enough. He can swing the ball and he can hit good lines and lengths. Because the other guys have extra pace, this is more important for him because he is brisk and relatively quick and can swing the ball, and thus he has the entire package. He has a natural ability to swing.

Best doesn't really swing the ball; it is not natural to him. Jermaine tends to bowl off the seam, but to Taylor it is natural to swing the ball. He can get up to 90 miles an hour, the others can bowl over 90 mph, but that ability to go over 90 is more inherent in the other guys.

I remember being in England with him some time ago and he had to take some responsibility for exhibiting one skill in competition with other countries. It was a bowling skill, probably hitting the stumps, and he didn't do well, and he came off the field and he sat there, and nobody could get him out of his despair. It emphasised to me that he had a deep desire for success.

Weakness:

Taylor had some back problems after he made his debut in St Lucia in 2003, then he went to Zimbabwe, where he incurred some more back problems. I think that has kept him out. From what I understand from the coaching staff, they had to make some minor adjustments to his technique.

Given his youth will this injury affect his career?

I don't know that I can conceivably say that it will affect him in the future. I know the coaching staff has tried to get him stronger, a lot of gym work and so on. He is probably one of the fittest on the team. I think he's got a really nice action. I think that's the other thing that works for him. It seems less demanding and less strenuous on the body as compared with Fidel and Tino. And that's another plus.

Can they change bowlers' actions to relieve stress?

A fast bowler has to bowl in a way that is natural to him. Fidel has an action that is very unusual and to change it is going to be hard. What they may have tried to do is to refine it, but still, it is a demanding action on a small body.

Jerome is a student of the game, you can see him thinking; you can see his interest. He tries to understand his bowling action, and he is a good fielder. And I am sure if he plays Test cricket long enough he will score a few half centuries because he has some batting ability. And he looks like he can become a complete player.

Pedro Collins

Strength:

Pedro provides something different; because he is left-handed he gets the ball to do something different into the right-handers which, in theory complements the other right-handed seamers. At times he gets a different shape on the ball particularly bringing it back into the right-handers.



Pedro Collins needs to push himself harder © Getty Images

Weakness:

I think that even though he's had a few back injuries, his cricket can be a bit more advanced. He has the ability to advance a little bit more in all departments in his cricket. If he commits even more of himself to preparation, fitness, understanding of his bowling, I think he will be more advanced.

To take his position as a leader of the pace attack - because of his age, the number of Test matches he's played - there needs to be more commitment to understanding the game, understanding pitches, etc. His temperament is easy-going, that's what I like about him, as a person I find him pleasant to be around, he's very friendly, very mannerly, but he needs to push harder and not be as casual about his game.

Corey Collymore:

Strength:

He studies the game in terms of his bowling. He's a very smart bowler with good control. Beyond that I think he has taken on the role of the mentor with the team. The other guys look up to him, particularly Fidel and Jerome. You see them by the swimming pool and he's encouraging them to work hard and train. He's taken the responsibility of a leader.



Corey Collymore has taken the responsibility of a leader. © Getty Images

He has control over length and line, and the ability to present a very good seam position to allow the ball to seam away, to swing away, at times. When he's in good form, I don't think there is a better bowler in the Caribbean. He just presents that control and penetration in the right conditions. He isn't quick; I think he's around 80 mph. He cannot run through teams as he would in the right conditions. He bowls a three quarter length where you don't know whether to come forward or go back.

Weakness

He has had to work on transformation of his bowling after he had some back injuries. He had to work on transformation in terms of control.

Vaneisa Baksh is a freelance journalist based in Trinidad