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.”

West Indies bowling legend turned commentator Michael Holding has accused the England team of displaying ‘western arrogance’ following the decision to withdraw from the tour of Pakistan.

Last month, the England Cricket Board announced the decision to pull out of the tour of Pakistan, which was expected to include matches for both the men’s and women’s teams.  The decision came sharply on the back of the New Zealand’s team's choice to pull out of a similarly planned tour after citing security concerns.

The ECB cited a concern for "mental and physical well-being" as the primary reason for taking the decision particularly as the group had ‘already coped with a long period of operating in restricted Covid environments’.  Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chair Ramiz Raja accused the ECB of failing a fellow member of the cricket fraternity and Holding was also not convinced by the body’s reasons.

"The ECB statement doesn't wash with me," the always forthright Holding said. "No substance."

"Nobody wants to come forward and face up to anything because they know what they did was wrong,” he added.

"So they put out a statement and hid behind a statement. It just reminds me of the rubbish they did with Black Lives Matter.

"I won't go back into that because I've said enough about that. But what that signal sends to me, is the same Western arrogance.

"I will treat you how I feel like treating you, it doesn't matter what you think, I'll just do what I want."

 

Michael Holding, the feared tear-away fast bowler turned respected cricket commentator has announced his retirement from the commentary booth.

Cricketer turned commentator Michael Holding believes British society and its media are all talk and little action when it comes to championing equal rights for all, more specifically the Black Lives Matter movement.

Legendary West Indies fast bowler turned pundit, Michael Holding, has revealed his powerful, impassioned plea for an end to institutionalised racism had just come ‘spilling’ out, following the death of American George Floyd.

Floyd’s death, at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin last year, prompted global outcry and worldwide protests.  In response to the incident, Holding gave powerful testimony about racial injustice, during Sky Cricket's coverage of England against West Indies in July 2020.

Holding won the Sports Journalists' Association (SJA) Award for Best Pundit in 2020 at the SJA Awards and Sky Sports won the Sports Network of the Year category.  The Sports Pundit award is decided by an SJA Members' vote.

The West Indian revealed the speak has simply come from thoughts that have been buried deep in his consciousness for a number of years now.

"People don't understand what it is like to go through life and always thinking that people think less of you than what you think of yourself,” Holding said at the online awards ceremony.

"It can be a little bit tiring and when I got that opportunity it just came spilling out,” he added.

He, however, holds out hope that the process that could lead to lasting change has already begun.

"If you just look at the protests on the road and look at the faces of the people that were on the road. I saw a Swedish women's football team take a knee before a game, so it is going all over the world that people are recognising that things need to be done, and it's about time it did."

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.”

Former West Indies captain, Clive Lloyd, believes the upcoming and current generation of fast bowlers will only reach their full potential if they spend more time thinking on the pitch.

For many decades the Windies was known for producing generations of fearsome fast bowlers.  The likes of Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshal, and Michael Holding filled the hearts of countless opposition batsmen with fear for decades.

 A new generation of Windies bowlers, led by Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel along with youngster Alzarri Joseph has shown some promise, in recent times, but are yet to scale the heights reached by the golden generation.  Lloyd, who captained and played alongside many of the region’s top fast bowlers, has insisted the players had more than just pace.

“The thing with our fast bowlers is that they all did something different, it wasn’t just inswingers or outswingers.  They bowled different things.  So, when you came to bat against our players, you had to be at the top of your game and that’s why they were successful,” Lloyd told the Mason and Guest program.

“There was no let-up.  We didn’t just have fast bowlers; we had thinking fast bowlers.  They were not calypso cricketers,” he added.    

 

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