Former West Indies pacer Andy Roberts on Saturday rued the decline of “real” fast bowling in his country and beyond. He blamed T20 cricket for it, saying today’s fast bowlers are more focused on line and length instead of bowling quick.
Roberts was an integral part of the Windies’ famous pace-quartet alongside Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft in the 1970s and early ’80s. He was the fastest too, even clocking 159.5 kmph against Australia in 1975.
But he doesn’t find today’s fast bowling in the West Indies as encouraging as it was in the past. Speaking to former Ireland captain Niall O’ Brien for an International Cricket Council (ICC) organized video, Roberts said:
“To me, the fast bowling in West Indies is not as encouraging as it was 15-20 years ago. Even after the greats have retired, we still had a few youngsters, who were coming through. I don’t know if it is the advent of T20 cricket that is not allowing bowlers and bowl fast. People are more focused on line and length these days instead of real fast bowling.”
Roberts added that even among young players, those with raw pace excite him more. He believes that swing and accuracy can be added with experience.
“Anybody, who runs and bowls fast is what I like and who I like because you can transform from a good fast bowler to a good swing bowler or a good medium pacer bowler. But you can’t go from being a medium pacer to a fast bowler. It takes a lot out to do that.”
His comments came on the sidelines of the ICC Men’s U-19 World Cup in the Caribbean. West Indies U-19 failed to qualify for the quarter-finals after managing just one win from three games in the group stage.
“Very sad to see that West Indies are not taking part in the final stage” – Andy Roberts
Roberts, who turned 71 on Saturday, also lamented the youngsters’ performance, saying it was “very sad” for him to see them knocked out early. He added:
“I have a great passion for the game and especially West Indies cricket. So to me, it is very sad to see that West Indies are not taking part in the final stage of the ICC Men’s U-19 World Cup,” he said.
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West Indies U-19 will now play the 11th place playoff against a yet-to-be-decided opponent on January 31 in Diego Martin.