When Richie Richardson played his first international game in 1983 at the Wankhede Stadium, the galleries filled up to watch the Calypso cricketers. Apart from the aggressive, entertaining West Indian batsmen, their menacing pace bowlers were the top draws. Even among their pace pantheon, the name Malcolm Marshall (Maco) evoked awe and fear.
Fans who haven’t watched Maco’s tribe in action have missed out on something special as there have been few sights as awe-inspiring (check with Gavaskar & Co who played in the 1983 Test series).
The India versus West Indies league game is now inconsequential, but for those who are keen on a glimpse of the great fast bowling legacy, West Indies manager Richardson felt the MA Chidambaram stadium is the place to be on Sunday.
It will be a throwback to the old times as young fast bowling sensation, Kemar Roach, will be showcasing his skills against the best batsmen in the world.
“I am very impressed with Kemar. I am seeing signs of Malcolm Marshall in him. I like his approach. He is young and learning really fast,” Richardson, a former captain who scored 16 Test hundreds, told the Hindustan Times.
Marshall was not the typical, giant West Indian fast bowler. But he generated tremendous speed with a whippy action that made life difficult even for the finest batsmen with the ball often skidding off the pitch. And he was as hostile as they come.
Roach, who is among the leading bowlers at the World Cup with 13 wickets in five games, is in a similar mould, feels Richardson. “He is deceptive. He’s a small man but bowls really, really quick. He’s showing signs of tremendous control. He can swing the ball, can reverse it, and is very good at finishing off the tail,” said Richardson.
“I want him to stay fit and continue to work at his game and continue to do great things for the West Indies.”
During their Test series against Australia in 2009, the 22-year-old Roach had felled and unnerved Ricky Ponting with his lightning quick stuff, and was the Man-of-the-Series in Sri Lanka for his 10 wickets in three Tests. It’ll be his first game against India in India. The only game he’s played against India was in the 2009 Champions Trophy in South Africa.
There is no bigger thrill than to test yourself against the best, and Roach’s moment will be on Sunday when he locks horn with the biggest name in cricket - Sachin Tendulkar. For Chennai’s old timers - it could evoke memories of the 1983 Sunil Gavaskar versus Marshall battle.
With two vintage centuries, Tendulkar is looking unstoppable while Roach is breathing fire. He took the first hat-trick of this Cup, before Lasith Malinga joined the list.