The great West Indian teams of the 1970’s and 80’s had a template that they used to achieve overwhelming success all over the world. The team included some world class batsmen and four out and out fast bowlers.
Notwithstanding the greatness of the batsmen, several of the matches won by the team was due to the superlative effort and skill of the four-prong pace attack that just kept running in and delivering at over 90 mph driving fear into the best batsmen of the day! This type of bowling attack gave the batting unit the confidence and swagger to play positively knowing that whatever total they made would be likely defended by the bowlers which resulted in a supremely confident and world-beating team.
Fast forward to the West Indian team of today; there are probably only two bowlers in the team set up (Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph) that can generate speeds of 90 mph, the rest of the bowlers are fast medium at best. This is one of the major challenges facing the team — world class batsmen are hardly troubled by medium pace bowling since they have enough time to adjust and play each ball on its merit comfortably. To present more challenges to the best batsmen in the world and increase our competitiveness, we need at least two more bowlers in the team that consistently breach the 90-mph threshold. I will look at some potential candidates that can fill this void in the current West Indian team.
One very promising young bowler who can be groomed to fulfill such a role in the West Indies team is Oshane Thomas from Jamaica.
This 20-year-old kid has express pace and has rattled top regional batsmen such as Chris Gayle and Devon Smith. He is also an aggressive bowler who is continuously in the face of the batsman. Thomas is undoubtedly one who can be groomed and developed into a world-class fast bowler that will pose a challenge to the best batsmen in the world.
Another great prospect is Romario Shepherd, who is a young strapping fast bowler from Guyana, who hits the deck very hard and generates tremendous pace of over 90 mph. He like Thomas has played limited regional four-day games, but his raw talent is obvious and needs to be harnessed for the good of West Indies Cricket. He is just twenty-three years old and has the right attitude to excel at the international level.
The Barbadian trio of Keon Harding (21), Chemar Holder (19), and Dominic Drakes (19) are also fast bowling talent worth investing in. They recently destroyed a decent Jamaican batting line up for just 133 in a four-day game between the two teams. They bowled with control and pace and watching them provided glimpses of the mighty West Indian pace bowling attacks of the past.
There is also fast bowling talent in Trinidad and Tobago, the Leeward Islands, and the Windward Islands. In my opinion, the fast bowling talent in the West Indies is comparable to countries like Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand; we, however, do not have a system in place to develop raw talent into professional success stories.
I am therefore challenging Cricket West Indies to put in place a structure specifically for young fast bowlers, where they would be paid a salary and developed in an academy and coached by one or more of the many great West Indian fast bowlers of the past. If this is done, I can guarantee that we will begin to churn out top quality fast bowlers who will be a force to be reckoned with at the highest level!
Pace like fire will always work, but do the current West Indies administrators know this of cricket?
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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