DEHRADUN: West Indian pace legend Courtney Walsh doesn’t foresee another one like him or Curtly Ambrose coming along in international cricket but neither does he believe that fast bowling is on the decline.
“You are not going to get bowlers like me and Curtly anymore because we are long gone, retired,” Walsh replied when asked about his legendary partnership with the lanky Antiguan.
“The new generation will create its own stuff, bring its own technique. When I played, I used what Wesley Hall and Andy Roberts taught me. It keeps evolving. If you can get those senior players to pass on their tips and use it with what is happening now, you will only be a better bowler,” he reckoned.
The exponential growth of slam-bang T20 cricket has forced the fast bowlers to come up with a plethora of variations. The pacers end up using those same tricks even in the longest format where sheer speed and accuracy remain the most potent weapons.
Walsh, who formed one of the most celebrated pace bowling partnerships alongside Ambrose, says a modern-day fast bowler represents the constant evolution of the game. “All aspects of the game are evolving. So, I don’t think fast bowling is on the decline. You just have to combine the old school fast bowling with the new stuff that is happening now to keep improving your game,” Walsh, who is the interim coach of Bangladesh, said.
The 55-year-old Jamaican feels subtle variations were always part of the game and the only difference is that the bowlers nowadays rely heavily on them. “We had slower balls, slower yorkers, quicker yorkers back in the day also. Technology is showing it (variations) more now,” he said.
“It is good for the game with those variations coming but still you got to manage the consistency and strike the right balance between old-school fast bowling and current day innovations. It is always going to be a challenge,” added the owner of 776 international wickets.
Among the current generation, Walsh is impressed most by English pacers. “I don’t like naming bowlers I like but I am impressed with a lot of stuff that is happening with England fast bowlers. It is good for cricket. Fast bowling remains important in all forms of the game.
“Any exciting fast bowler that comes up, people want to see him play. My only concern is that these young bowlers get to bowl on the right kind of pitches. It will add to the excitement.”
He will be working with Bangladesh for at least until another year and his main focus is on building a pool of pacers besides managing their workload. Citing the example of lead pacer Mustafizur Rahman, who pulled out of the T20 series against Afghanistan due to the injury he suffered in the preceding IPL, Walsh felt the bowlers need to prioritise their workload.
“His injury is a cause of concern. The second time he has come back from IPL with an injury. We got to make him fitter and stronger. He is young and talented. It (Rahman pulling out) was frustrating because we did not know about the injury,” he said.
“Anyway, going forward it has been made clear that all bowlers communicate their issues to the right channel. At the end of the day, the player has to own the responsibility because you are playing for two different teams,” Walsh added.