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The long and short of the once feared Caribbean bowlers

cricket Updated: Jun 20, 2011 01:40 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times
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For the West Indies, who often toyed with the opposition during their decades of domination, it was relentless pace that provided the X-factor: intimidation.

It helped in no small measure that they could call upon giant fast bowlers who had most batsmen quaking in their boots even before the toe crusher or snorter claimed their wickets.

Times have changed and the likes of the menacing Joel “Big Bird” Garner, Colin Croft, Curtly Ambrose or Courtney Walsh, not to speak of Michael Holding and Andy Roberts, don't dominate the cricketing fields of the Caribbean anymore.

As the West Indies team declines with every passing season, its best hope for challenging India will be pace.

The 5 ft 8 in Kemar Roach and the 6 ft Ravi Rampaul will lead the pace attack on Sabina Park, where a bouncy pitch gives the hosts their best chance to make a good start.

The 22-year-old Roach has been a picture of controlled aggression, and he gave a glimpse of that in the final ODI at the same ground. Rampaul, who has troubled even Sachin Tendulkar, is the first Caribbean fast bowler of Indian origin to play for the West Indies and can be a handful for the mostly inexperienced Indian batsmen.

Former fast bowler Ian Bishop attributes the vanishing breed of big bowlers to changing times. “Many of the big men have moved into sports like basketball. Fast bowling is too much hard work for big players.”

Fidel Edwards, the third fast bowler in the West Indies squad who has come back after a surgery to his back, also stands under 6 ft. “They were pretty tall, and right now, it is the opposite,” he says, adding that he wants to chart his own path. Well, Malcolm Marshall was one of the shortest, but deadliest, of them all.