India in West Indies, 2005-06 June 9, 2006

Collins's bitter-sweet joy at replacing his brother

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan in St. Lucia



Pedro's back. But only because his brother is unfit. © AFP

What do you do when your premier fast bowler is rendered unfit? Replace him with his brother. It must feel strange to be Pedro Collins at this point. He is in because Fidel Edwards, his half-brother, has suffered a hamstring injury. Collins wished for Edwards's speedy recovery; yet he is equally keen to grab this chance and cement his place in the West Indies side.

A stress fracture had forced Collins to endure some frustrating months recently. "I had a decent time with the ball in the last couple of games I played," he said. "Unfortunately I got an injury and I needed to straighten up my body. I'm pretty fit again now. I've played a couple of first-class games for Barbados and picked up wickets - unfortunately we lost in the finals to Trinidad [of the Carib Beer series]. I've also started preparing for the Twenty20 competition, keeping myself fit and in shape. I hope I could follow in Fidel's footsteps - he's been bowling pretty well with good pace."

With 96 Test wickets in 29 games, Collins is by no means a freshman. Yet, despite him being 29, he can't be classified as a veteran. He wants to make use of his experience, yet he knows that he needs to first cement his place in the team. It's a curious situation to confront. "I'll like to be as fit as possible because I'm close to 30 and looking at around four to five years of cricket," he continued. "Injuries can take you a couple of months, or even a year, to recover. I'm pretty experienced so my aim is to help the team in that aspect. My forte is to put the ball in the right place and pick up wickets.

"There aren't many quick wickets in the Caribbean, in fact pitches all over the world have slowed down. But as a fast bowler it's not about only pace. It's about control and accuracy, and that's something I'm good at. You're not going to get too many bouncy, greentop wickets in the Caribbean."

India will remember Collins well. The last time they toured here, he managed nine wickets in three games, including nailing Sachin Tendulkar thrice. "I've played against India before. When you've done well against them, your eager to play against them again. I'm pretty excited about it."

Ideally, he would have wished Fidel to be there, with both of them being part of the attack. Collins, though, got a chance to speak to Edwards at the airport. "He told me to watch my line because they have some pretty dangerous batsmen like Dhoni." Both may have completely different styles of bowling - one right-handed and slingy, the other left-handed and military - but they do share one common facet. Edwards, a wrestling fan, decided to imitate John Cena every time he snapped up a victim, waving three fingers in front of his face with his "you can't see me" style. It didn't take too long for Collins and Corey Collymore, their childhood mate at Boscobelle in Barbados, to take the cue. Edwards won't be around but there may still be plenty of three-fingered salutes.