Where have all the bowlers gone? February 3, 2004

Walsh in the cold and fearing for the future

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Courtney Walsh: the last of a long line of fast-bowling greats?
© Wisden Cricinfo

For many years Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose maintained West Indies' prominent place in world cricket. As the seemingly endless emergence of fast bowlers from the Caribbean reduced to a trickle, the two of them held the attack together, almost on their own in their twilight years. Now they are gone, and there has not been anyone even close to filling the void. And Walsh fears for the future.

"Our bowling is a real concern," he told the Independent's Angus Fraser. "The potential is there but there has been a real lack of consistency. The word on the street is that Curtly and myself should come out of retirement."

In the 1980s and 1990s West Indies survived on raw talent and the legacy of the Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards years. But in-fighting within the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), coupled with chronic under investment, made the decline depressingly inevitable.

There are steps being taken to remedy the situation but it is far too little, and decades too late. And remarkably, the board has not even asked Walsh, their last great bowler, for any advice. "I would like to think I could help the bowlers, but the WICB have not asked me. I try to help out the Jamaican team whenever I can. I have asked Curtly the same question and nobody at the WICB has asked him as well.

"At this moment in time ... we do not have anyone to lead the pack. I don't know whether it is a lack of planning on our part or that we are expecting too much. We need to find out if this lack of consistency is caused by a lack of discipline or bad practice. It could be that this lot just don't have it in them and we need to find a new crop.

"I don't believe this is the case. In Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor I believe we have two bowlers with the ability to go all the way. But ...they have not yet learnt their trade. They need more help from the senior players."

Sadly for the youngsters, those the board see as capable of helping them don't include Walsh or Ambrose.