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West Indies' fast-bowling reservoir was so deep, they could have had an XI full of quick men and still have to leave some out
July 12, 2010
West Indies cricket and fast bowling go together like a horse and a carriage. Like their exciting middle-order batsmen, West Indies fast bowlers - and definitely so up to 20 or so years ago - seemed to pop up day after day. Most were fast enough to make batsmen tremble in their boots, and the majority of them are numbered among the best of their time - a few among the best of all time.
From the days of Learie Constantine, George Francis and Herman Griffith, through the likes of Manny Martindale, Leslie Hylton, Hines Johnson, Roy Gilchrist, Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith, to the fearsome quartet of Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft, and later on to the likes of Malcolm Marshall, Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose, fast bowlers have been the bread and butter of West Indies cricket.
Constantine, it is written, was as fast as any bowler of his time; Herman Griffith, the man who became a household name in the Caribbean after bowling Don Bradman for 0 in the fifth Test of 1930-31, was all quality. The Indians of the 1958-59 series will confirm that Gilchrist was undoubtedly one of the fastest of his time. The pair of Hall and Charlie Griffith was one of the great ones in the history of the game, and no batsman who had the misfortune of facing them in the 1970s going into the 80s, doubted the quality, the skill and the class of Roberts, Holding, Garner and Croft. They were four big men, all standing over six feet, one at 6ft 7in, and another at 6ft 8in. They were all fast but brought different skills to the combination, and batting against them was a nightmare.
So rich is the history of fast bowling in West Indies cricket that selecting the three quicks on the all-time West Indies team is no easy task. In fact, even if the job was to select an all-time West Indies team of fast bowlers, batting from No. 1 to No. 11, there would still be some great ones left behind.
We'll be publishing an all-time West Indies XI based on readers' votes to go with our jury's XI. To pick your fast bowlers click here
Former sports editor of the Jamaica Gleaner and the Daily News, Tony Becca has covered West Indies cricket for 30 yearsFeeds: Tony Becca
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