West Indies legend, Sir Andy Roberts, has called for more aggression from the Caribbean fast bowlers ahead of the third and decisive Test against England, which bowls off in Grenada on Wednesday.

So far, bowlers have rarely managed to gain the ascendancy with the two previous pitches in Antigua and Barbados offering very little in the way of assistance.  In the previous Test, a total of 1,238 runs were scored, including a deflating 507 for 9 declared scored by England in the first innings.

If the West Indies are to break the deadlock on the back of two prior draws, Roberts believes the region’s pace bowlers must give more effort at the crease to unsettle the English batsmen.

“Aggressive doesn’t mean you have to be up in somebody’s face, but you can be aggressive in your approach, you can be aggressive in your steering because that’s one of the things I did. I never swore but when I looked at you and I see you turn away, then I say ‘yes, I have you because you can’t look me in the eye’, and that is what is required,” Roberts told the Good Morning Jojo Radio program.

“I see many West Indian fast bowlers going back to the days of Mervyn Dillion, Reon King, and when they get hit for boundaries they smile, they don’t get upset,” he added.

“The ball doesn’t come off the pitch faster than you release it, so if you’re a fast bowler then it means you’re a fast bowler, you can’t be a fast bowler and a fast-medium bowler. What is being taught today is line and length and bowl fourth and fifth stump outside the off stump, but instead of attacking the batsman, attacking the stumps, they are bowling outside of off stump, which is what they practice so sometimes it seems as though the coaches are at fault sometimes. In order to get the best out of the fast bowlers, you have to encourage them to bowl fast.”

Legendary West Indies bowler Sir Andy Roberts has expressed concern that the current generation of players is suffering from a lack of genuine pace.

In his heyday, Roberts was part of a generation of fierce West Indian pace bowlers, a line-up which also included the likes of Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Colin Croft, and Malcolm Marshall, who were all known for terrorizing opposition batsmen with brutally quick deliveries.

While admitting that the up-and-coming pace bowlers can at times reach top speeds, Roberts does not believe the performances have been sustained for long enough periods of time.

“What West Indies has been lacking for a while is a genuine fast bowler.  We have fast bowlers, but we don’t have anyone of genuine pace who at night the batsmen can’t see because you are thinking of tomorrow.  We haven’t had that for a long time,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio program.

The former quick believes a part of the issue has to do with the workload required to sustain top speeds throughout a game.

“Fast bowling is hard work, and a lot of people don’t like to work hard.  They believe that the ball comes quicker off the pitch than when you release it.  They are not prepared to put in the hard work, the donkey work," he added.

“I find that our fast bowlers can’t bowl fast for more than 2 or 3 overs.  It’s because they’re not strong enough, their legs are not strong enough.” 

Windies paceman Shannon Gabriel is currently the fastest of the current crop, but Roberts believes, even for him, there is a significant drop-off in pace the longer the bowler plays in a match.

“It’s your legs that carry you through as a fast bowler not just your chest…when Shannon Gabriel was bowling in the 90s, he bowled a number of balls 92, 95 but that was between 10 and 11 o clock between 2 and 3 o clock it's down to high 80s.  Why, because his legs aren’t strong enough.”

Legendary West Indies fast bowler, Sir Andy Roberts, insists all of the team’s shortcomings at the crease should not be blamed on coaches at the senior team level, as overall, more work needs to be put into developing the region’s young players.

On the back of a historic shock loss to Ireland in their most recent international One Day International (ODI) series, the team’s performances have come under the microscope even more than usual, particularly as it relates to the patchy performance of the batting line-up.

Against Ireland, the batsmen seemed technically incapable of dealing with either the moist conditions on the pitch or the craft of the Irish bowlers.  The team’s struggles have led some to question the work of head coach Phil Simmons and the team’s batting coaches, but while admitting that more needed to be done by the coach, Roberts insists the team’s troubles run a lot deeper.

“For what it is now, I don’t think I would blame the coach alone because of the (low) quality of our players coming out of the region,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“We have to put some emphasis on the coaches from our lower levels coming up because that is where you learn the skills of batting because most focus today is on batting.  I read where the captain said that the West Indies has a batting problem but we’ve been having a batting problem for years… we want to blame others at the top when this is a problem that comes from the lower level.”

 

Legendary WI fast bowler Andy Roberts is convinced the Cricket West Indies panel of selectors made a grave error by omitting all-rounder Jason Holder from the final 15-man World Cup squad.

Despite being better known for his exploits in the red-ball format, Holder’s exclusion from the first-team squad and selection as a reserve for the tournament caused shock and dismay across the Caribbean, following the announcement of the final squad next week.

In international T20 cricket to date, Holder has managed 27 matches with an average of 16.75 in 18 innings, added to that he has claimed 22 wickets.  In the Indian Premier League last season, however, he put on several strong performances during his time with Sunrisers Hyderabad and also had a strong showing against Sri Lanka in the series of practice games.  He did, however, struggled against Pakistan and has also failed to make a telling impact in the CPL.  For Roberts, however, the player's proven quality should have been enough to see him added to the starting team.

“I was shocked because he is the best cricketer we have in the region, bar none,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“I’d pick him as one of the first choices for the World Cup, what is he doing in the reserves.  It embarrassing for us to see how we could treat our best cricketer. Jason Holder is our best cricketer," he added.

Holder has been consistently ranked as the top, or second-best Test cricket all-rounder for the last couple of years but has not displayed that kind of dominance over the shorter formats.

 

 

Legendary West Indies fast bowler, Andy Roberts, is hopeful developing young pacer Alzarri Joseph has learned a thing or two from his recent stint in English County Cricket.

The 24-year-old Joseph has spent a little over a month representing Worcestershire, where he made his debut following the West Indies home series against Sri Lanka.  As per the arrangement, the player is now back in the Caribbean for the team’s upcoming series against South Africa.

In his six matches there, Joseph did make some impression, claiming 15 wickets, the second most in the team and adding 148 runs, with a high score of 61.  In addition, he claimed an innings best of 2 for 22 and match best of 4 for 106.   

The English championships is typically lauded as a good place for young cricketers to develop, not only due to the difficult and different conditions, but also the volume of cricket played in a short period of time.  During the West Indies spell as the top cricketing nation, several of the players took part in the competition.

“He spent some time in England which everyone feels like that is the bedrock for development because of the amount of cricket that you play, but gone are the days when you use to play seven days or sometimes, 12 to 14 days in a row, and if you can’t develop from that system then you can’t develop,” Roberts, who represented Hampshire and Leicestershire, told the Antigua Observer.

“I am just hoping that he spent most of his time in the nets learning to hone his craft because there is no point to playing County cricket and you don’t learn nothing from playing County cricket. For years I’ve been saying the same thing over and over like the record is stuck; personal development is the key to success.”

 

West Indies captain Jason Holder has lashed out at the former greats who constantly criticize the current team without providing solutions.

West Indies legend Sir Andy Roberts insists the region’s fall off in producing top-class bowling talent is due to the unwillingness of the current generation to put in the hard yards required to be successful.

For decades, the region was the producer of fearsome fast bowling talent, which often left opposition batsmen with plenty to think about.  The likes of Roberts, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, Wes Hall, and Michael Holding are only a few of the names who could leave opponents with plenty to dread once they strode to the crease.

Many will point to the pace-bowling lineage being broken with the end of twin towers Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, with no bowler since managing to come close to consistency matching that once fearsome legacy.

“I don’t think that these guys are prepared for the hard work that fast bowling entails,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest program.

“If you look at it, most players now prefer to play T20s, it's only four overs.  I must say that fast bowling is hard work, I would say donkey work, but I just believe they are not prepared,” he added.

In recent times, some have blamed poor preparation of the region’s pitches for suffocation of the Caribbean’s fast bowling talent, Roberts, however, does not agree.

“A lot of people blame the pitches, but I always ask, Pakistan is supposed to have some of the slowest pitches in the world, yet still they produce some of the fastest bowlers in the world.  How do they do it and we can’t,” Roberts said.

 “People believe that during the 60s, 70s, and 80s we used to have really fast pitches, that is far from the truth.  We used to have Kensington Oval, the ball used to swing around and move off the seam on the first day, but after that, it became one of the best batting pitches in the region.  It has nothing to do with pitches, it has a lot to do with the work ethics of the young cricketers, they don’t want to work hard.”

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