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Windies' quicks off the pace

Even today, the mere mention of names like Michael Holding and Joel Garner is enough to make batsmen break out in a cold sweat.

india Updated: Feb 24, 2003 14:51 IST

Even today, the mere mention of names like Michael Holding, Colin Croft, Joel Garner and Andy Roberts is enough to make batsmen of a certain age break out in a cold sweat.

But their successors in the current West Indies team are unlikely to be remembered with the same fearful awe, especially if their performance against Canada is any guide.

Mervyn Dillon, Pedro Collins and Vasbert Drakes, the three quick bowlers who played against the North Americans on Sunday, received an awful thrashing from Canada's John Davison who smashed the World Cup's fastest-ever century at the Centurion.

Although West Indies eventually won the game by seven wickets, Davison's 67-ball hundred was a worrying sight for Caribbean cricket lovers.

West Indies' captain Carl Hooper's post-match comments were a damning indictment of how far standards have fallen.

"We've got to be more accurate, more consistent. We've got to put five or six balls in the one area," Hooper said.

"I was very surprised... You'd have thought we'd have pulled it back sooner."

And West Indian great Viv Richards, now chairman of selectors, was equally unhappy.

"I'm certainly not pleased with the length of some of those deliveries," the master blaster said.

"We've got to get back to bowling a full length. Some of those deliveries were giving the batsmen a lot of room to play cuts."

But at least Drakes, whose first two overs went for 29, came back well to finish with five for 44 - wickets taken mainly with good length balls.

"He was the only one of those guys who came back to the party," Richards said. "For the other individuals who took a hiding, hopefully they will have learned something."

Comparisons with the famed pace quartet of the past, possibly the most devastating world cricket has ever seen, are as unfair as stacking up a batsman's record against Don Bradman's.

Whoever they are, the other person suffers.

Raw, frightening pace - which Clive Lloyd's quartet had in abundance and which the current generation fall some way short of - is generally something that is innate and cannot be taught.

But it is inconceivable that Holding and company would have demonstrated the lack of bowling intelligence that enabled Davison, a number nine batsman for South Australia, play shots all round the wicket.

Throughout the entire 1979 World Cup, played in England, the West Indies' most expensive paceman was Andy Roberts, whose seven wickets came at an average of 21.50 while Holding led the way with eight victims at 13.25 apiece.

The West Indies still have fast bowlers but the Rolls Royce of former years appears to have been traded in for an old banger.

First Published: Feb 24, 2003 14:51 IST