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Cricket is now a ‘sissy’s game’, no aggression left: Andy Roberts

CricketCricket is now a ‘sissy’s game’, no aggression left: Andy Roberts

While the entire Caribbean is going gaga over Alzarri Joseph, who appears a rare positive emerging from the region, fellow Antiguan and former West Indies fast bowling great Andy Roberts refuses to even consider him an out and out fast bowler.Andy Roberts

“He is not fast. No, he is not fast. He bowls medium pace at 85 and 86 miles. What some of these guys need to do is speak to people, especially those from the past, and learn about their methods of training which made them bowl quick,” says Roberts.

Joseph, 20, was a member of the squad which beat India in the final of the 2016 U-19 World Cup and graduated to the senior side soon after.

Killing aggression

Roberts, the Antigua’s leader of the lethal West Indies bowling quartet in the 1970s and 80s, says cricket is becoming a ‘sissy’s game’ as the administrators are doing their best to weed out aggression.

“We don’t have enough pacers in the world. No one’s bowling fast because rules for short-pitched bowling have changed, batsmen are fully protected. The rules of the game are cutting aggression. You cannot even stare hard at the batsmen else they would fine you. They are taking all the aggression out of the game.

“What part of cricket is gentle? Let me ask you, women are playing, is it a female’s game? No. People who make all these rules make them sissy’s game,” he adds.

“As a spectator what do you like to see, aggression between batsman and a fast bowler. Cricket, when I played, wasn’t for the chicken-hearted, it was for people with a lion’s heart. Not anymore.”

The pace leader

Roberts, 66, took 202 wickets in a nine-year Test career from 1974, the spearhead of Clive Lloyd’s ploy to win matches with an all-out pace attack.

Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Winston Davis and Colin Croft all spread fear among the finest batsmen of the time.

The game has undergone transformation over the years and training methods of the bowlers too have changed. Gym work has become an integral part of the game. There are trainers who lay emphasis on that during off-season.

However, Roberts, a longtime critic of this method, reiterates the need to pay attention to the basics. “I have been asking all along, why do you need the gym? To build muscles? But is fast bowling about muscles, or is it about strength? You build strength only through running and speaking about the West Indies pacers, I think they are not doing enough running.

Not connected to the game

“Who are the ones bringing in all these types of training? Someone who has not played the game.”

Roberts says they are making a big issue out of burnout, but the fact is they don’t have enough strength.

“They may be playing more matches but they are spending less time on the field. T20 is four overs, ODIs are less and less now, it is 10 overs. In a Test match, you could bowl as many as 20-25 overs a day. Yeah, there are too many matches but (bowlers are) not spending time on field. They are bowling as much. We would play back-to-back ODIs, sometimes they’d fit in an ODI on the rest day. But now there is a gap.”

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