Congratulations - Courtney Walsh
Courtney Walsh the West Indies 'wunderkind' and 'speed demon' has after all touched the zenith in bowling by claiming 500 wickets in test cricket. Almost every bowler in the game aspires for such great distinctions, which fall in the lap of only the best and the luckiest. Many people thought that the great bowler will call it a day the moment he bettered Kapil Dev's world record of 435 wickets but Courtney was not the one to bow down. Highly confident of his ability to hit the apex, he instead, set himself on the path of hitting the lofty target that he ultimately achieved. He has the genuine right to feel relieved after such a long and arduous journey.

Walsh, playing his 129th Test, which is also a record for a specialist bowler, reached the milestone when he took two wickets in 3 balls in South Africa's 2nd innings of the 2nd Test at the Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain. His historic 500th wicket came when he trapped the South African batsman Jacques Kallis lbw.

Anxiously waiting for the landmark, Walsh ran down the pitch with his arms raised and was patted, hugged and lifted by his teammates amidst a grand scene of joy and excitement.

Among all cricket players, fast bowlers are most highly prone to injuries. It goes to Walsh's credit that he maintained the optimum level of health and endurance keeping himself super-fit to see this glorious day. Records are meant to be broken but it is the time and the effort involved that matters the most. A target of 500 wickets being rather too high would not be as easy to surpass as the previous target of 435 wickets. It shall have to be captured by a giant much bigger than Courtney Walsh.

The current top contenders for the coveted honour would be Wasim Akram (409), Shane Warne (374), Glen McGrath (321), Waqar Younis (318) and Mutiah Muralitharan (317). With his current state of form and fitness Wasim Akram is not expected to last for such a long journey. Shane Warne is next in line while others are pretty far away. Shane is a great bowler with the ability to reach the summit provided he could effectively control his occasional stints of physical break down.

Shoaib off the field again
Shoaib Akhtar, Pakistan's speed icon who suffers from the obsession of breaking Jeff Thomson's speed record is off the field again for a suspect bowling action. Umpires Steve Dunne and Doug Cowie reported Shoaib, during Pakistan's final one-day international against New Zealand last month. This was the 3rd occasion in the last 18 months that the deadly speedster had been accused of a suspect action commonly known as 'chucking'. Shoaib however thinks that the suspicions about his bowling action that derailed his cricket career are nothing more than optical illusions.

Sent to Australia by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for a check up and treatment Shoaib has reached Perth, where he will be minutely examined by the former Western Australia and Kent coach Daryl Foster. A 3-dimentional video system is planned to be used to analyze his action. The video system is said to be the latest technology capable of detecting and providing a clear indication if there is a problem with his bowling action.

Foster who established a reputation as one of the game's most astute coaches, will be helped by former fast bowling great Dennis Lillee in the matter. According to some experts, the prospects of the scientific evidence clearing the bowler's name once and for all are quite encouraging provided Shoaib reaches full pace during the tests.

Unfortunately Shoaib is faced with not one but multiple problems. After he is cleared of chucking, he will not be useful to the Pakistan team unless he restores his full physical fitness. As indicated in one of my previous articles he has a problem with his knees needing a major surgical operation. PCB is well advised to now concentrate on this vital aspect of his health and physical fitness.

Welcome - New ICC CEO
We welcome and extend our good wishes to Malcolm Speed on his appointment as Chief Executive of the International Cricket Council (ICC). He will replace his countryman David Richards who held the reins of world's supreme cricket body with utmost efficiency and success during his 8 years stay on the job.

The Secretary or Chief Executive of a Cricket Board plays a big role in the development of cricket in his country while the success of its team acts as an indicator of the person's understanding of cricket affairs and level of efficiency and hard work. The enviable achievements of the Australian team during the last few years certainly owe a great deal to the planning and conduct of cricket affairs by Malcolm Speed.

Malcolm is taking over the coveted appointment at a time when many crucial issues like match fixing, the newly arising umpiring problem and others need sorting out. With his vast experience of cricket affairs, let us be sure that he will handle the affairs of world's cricket with wisdom and foresight.

In the end I wish good luck and a happy retired life to my friend David Richards, who remained a very pleasant comrade-in-arms when both of us represented our respective Cricket Boards in the ICC meetings. I will always cherish in my memories of the hospitality that he offered to me during my visit to Australia in 1985.