No cricket team in the 1970s and 1980s would produce the fast bowling attacks like the West Indies pace battery. These mean machines would induce fear in the hearts and minds of the opposition batsmen and played the biggest hand in making the West Indies under Clive Lloyd as the greatest test and ODI sides of those 2 decades. In this article we look back at the 5 ruthless West Indies fast bowlers of those 2 decades.
5. Collin Croft
This quickie might have had shortest career of all West Indian pacers but was in no way less feared than his other colleagues. Known for his speedy and accurate bouncers Croft would often make sure to ring the batsmen’s ears and end his confidence. Croft had an unusual action and would come wide of the crease and thus was very effective in disrupting the rhythm of the rival batters.
In a Career that could have been much more legendary Croft played just 27 test matches but took 125 wickets at a great average of just above 23. In any other pace attack Croft could easily have been a leader but such was the quality of this West Indian pace quartet that Croft was often regarded as an underrated bowler.
4. Joel Garner
The 6 feet 8 inch Joel Garner’s run up was a batmen’s nightmare. He would use every inch of his height to induce fear in the batsmen’s mind. Garner was not only lethal but very accurate with his line bowls, Yorkers and Bouncers making him almost unplayable on his day.
This mighty fast bowler nicknamed as the Big Bird played 58 test matches for his home nation. He took 259 test wickets at the phenomenal average of less than 21. Garner is also remembered for his inspiring fast bowling during the 1979 World Cup, which helped the West Indies to repeat their 1975 triumph and be crowned as World Champions again.
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3. Andy Roberts
In many ways Andrew Roberts was the spearhead of the 1970s West Indies fast bowling machinery. He was the 1st bowler in 1970s West Indies attack to bowl with such lethal pace that would unsettle batting line-ups world over. Andy had great variation and deception in his bowling. His range of deliveries would vary from slow bouncer to extremely fast one, his late out swingers also made life difficult for most of the rival batters.
The greatest batsmen of the era including Sunil Gavaskar, the Chappell brothers and Zaheer Abbas have rated Andy as one of the most skilled bowlers they ever faced. Roberts took 202 wickets in 47 tests matches at a great average of just above 25. In addition he guided a future generation of fast bowlers from Malcolm Marshall to Curtly Ambrose as a big brother.
2. Michael Holding
Arguably the fastest bowler of his generation, Michael Holding was famously called as Whispering Death due to his extremely silent run-up to the crease. His ability to bowl fast with absolute control as well as swing the bowl at such speed made Michael the greatest of the fast bowlers.
Along with Malcolm Marshall, Holding formed one of the best new ball bowling partnerships in the history of test cricket. The microcosm of Holding’s career the one over he bowled to Geoffrey Boycott in the 1981 test series, where the Englishman claimed that he could not see any delivery. Michael Holding played 60 test matches for the West Indies, taking 249 Wickets.
1. Malcolm Marshall
In an Era of the great West Indies fast bowlers, he was perhaps the greatest. Surprisingly fast and sharply accurate Malcolm Marshall has widely been regarded as the best right handed fast bowler ever to play the game. Marshall was not very tall unlike his other teammates but bowled with extreme intelligence using the crease with devastating effect.
Marshall could swing the ball both ways, produce banana swing in the air and had a great skidding bouncer making him a challenge on any pitch. He has been cited as an inspiration by later generation of fast bowlers like Courtney Walsh, Wasim Akram and Shaun Pollock. Marshall took 376 wickets from 81 tests at a surprising average of less than 21, which is regarded as one of the best ever. He died early in 1999 at the age of 41 depriving the cricket world of a legend.