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West Indies may not have produced as many top-notch spinners as fast bowlers, but the ones that did come through were world-beaters
July 20, 2010
Spin bowling is definitely not West Indies' best suit. With only Sonny Ramadhin, Alfred Valentine, and Lance Gibbs of the quality to rank with the lowest of their great openers, middle order, and their long line of fast bowlers, the truth is that when it comes to strength in numbers, West Indies' spin bowling ranks just below their wicketkeeping and probably only above their allrounders.
In terms of quality, though, it's a different matter. No one can question, for example, the quality of batsmen like Conrad Hunte and Gordon Greenidge, George Headley, Viv Richards, and Brian Lara, allrounders like Garry Sobers and Learie Constantine, wicketkeepers like Jackie Hendriks and Jeffrey Dujon, and fast bowlers like Wes Hall and Andy Roberts. The same is true of the three great West Indies spin bowlers. All three of them, Sonny Ramadhin, Alf Valentine and Lance Gibbs possessed quality of the rarest breed.
Two of them, "the spin twins", one bowling with his right hand, the other with his left, were the architects of West Indies' first victory in England and their first series victory anywhere. The other - so slim they called him Toothpick - was an important member of the first great West Indies team, which after victories over India, England, and Australia in the 1960s was rated the unofficial champion of the world.
Valentine was the first (and remains the youngest) bowler to reach 100 Test wickets for West Indies. When Ramadhin finished his career in 1960, after 10 years and 43 Test matches, he held the West Indies record for the most Test wickets, with 158. When Gibbs called it a day in 1976, after 18 years and 79 Test matches, he held the world record for the most Test wickets, with 309.
We'll be publishing an all-time West Indies XI based on readers' votes to go with our jury's XI. To pick your spinner 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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