Jermaine Lawson, once a great West Indian hope, and Andrew Richardson, currently thought to be the most promising of the young crop of fast bowlers in the islands, will train with Dennis Lillee at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai. The two fast bowlers have arrived in Chennai and were set to have their first net session under the watchful eye of the legendary Australian fast bowler on Wednesday.
"It could be for corrective measures [to Lawson's action]," TA Sekhar, head coach of the MRF Pace Foundation, told Cricinfo. "The Jamaican cricket board spoke to some of our boys when the Indian team toured West Indies recently. They saw Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth and Munaf Patel and were wondering how come India was producing many fast bowlers. Our boys spoke to them about the Pace Foundation."
Lawson began his Test career with a bang, taking six wickets in the space of just three runs against Bangladesh in only his third Test. Soon there was even better news as he recovered from chickenpox to take a hat-trick against Australia and lead West Indies to a memorable win with a career best 7 for 78. Then came the downfall as his action became decidedly ragged, and he was flagged more than once by the International Cricket Council. He then had to step back from the international scene to undergo remedial action.
"Jackie Hendricks got in touch with me and said he wanted to send Lawson over," said Sekhar. Hendricks, the former West Indian wicketkeeper, is currently the president of the Jamaica Cricket Association, the banner under which Lawson plays first-class cricket in the West Indies. "Lawson has the ability to bowl consistently over 140 kmh and if Lillee can fine-tune him and his action could be corrected West Indies will benefit. He's played just 13 Tests and taken 51 wickets. That's a good rate."
If Lawson is in Chennai to correct faults, Andrew Richardson, the 24-year-old fast bowler is on the trip to pick up whatever experience he can, and learn more about the nuances of fast bowling from Lillee. "People speak highly of Andrew Richardson and he has already played matches for West Indies A," says Sekhar.
Richardson has been one of the most consistent fast bowlers in the West Indian domestic competition over the last few years, and has 84 wickets from 25 first-class matches. When India were last in the West Indies, and Brian Lara made frequent calls for bowlers with genuine pace to be included in the team for the Jamaica Test, Richardson's name was one that came up.
On Lillee's current trip to India, though, it will just be the two West Indians training, apart from MRF's own players. It was decided that the Indians would not attend as the domestic season is just around the corner, as are various Under-19 tournaments.
Sekhar hoped that this could be the beginning of a longer and more permanent association with the West Indies cricket board. "The problem for West Indies is mainly funding. The plan is for them to send people over regularly, but that depends on the financial support they can get from the West Indies Cricket Board."
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo