Courtesy of PakPassion
PakPassion.net is delighted to present an exclusive interview with West Indian fast bowling great, Courtney Walsh. 49 year old Walsh is quite simply a legendary fast bowler who terrorised opposition international batsmen for over 16 years. Hailing from Jamaica, Walsh was a member of the great West Indian fast bowling quartets that took Caribbean cricket to the top of the cricketing ladder for many years. Walsh’s tremendous levels of fitness and his aptitude for hard work enabled him to take an incredible 519 Test wickets and bowl 30,019 balls in the 5 day format.
Extremely tall, unorthodox, but very effective Walsh formed one of the great opening bowling partnerships with Curtley Ambrose and between them they took 421 wickets from 49 Tests. Walsh was a true gentleman and well-liked by team mates and opponents. His facial expressions whilst bowling always brought great entertainment and his batting was equally entertaining. Walsh was also a loyal servant for English County side Gloucestershire whom he represented with great dignity for 14 seasons.
PakPassion.net : When you started your international career in 1984 did you have any idea that you would represent the West Indies with such dignity, success and for such a long time?
Courtney Walsh : No I had no idea. I thought I would just try my best, maintain my form for a few matches and then see how it goes. I certainly did not expect to play for the West Indies for as long as I did.
I wanted to do well and to play a couple of Test matches. Looking back I’m really happy, proud and very pleased that I served the West Indies team for so long.
PakPassion.net : You are the only fast bowler to have ever bowled more than 5000 overs in Test cricket. How did you manage to stay fit for so long and injury free? Was it down to a particular fitness regime or down to luck?
Courtney Walsh : I would say it’s a combination of both. I looked after myself very well and I tried to stay as fit as I could and I got a little bit lucky too. But with the love I had for the game, I always wanted to play and that proved to be very helpful. I tried to do everything I could to look after myself and make sure that I was fit enough to play whenever I was needed.
PakPassion.net : A lot of modern day fast bowlers seem to be struggling with injuries and having to restrict the number of matches they play and reduce the formats they play in. Where are they going wrong?
Courtney Walsh : I think it’s partly bad luck and also overuse of their muscles down to pushing themselves a bit too hard and playing too much cricket. Of course they want to give a good account of themselves, but with the amount of cricket being played these days you have to look after yourself a lot better and that extra effort can be the downfall for some of these fast bowlers.
PakPassion.net : Your thoughts on the current crop of West Indian fast bowlers?
Courtney Walsh : Fidel Edwards, Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor have impressed me. They have shown that they have potential but the fitness levels are a major concern. You cannot take wickets if you are not on the field of play. It’s down to them to get their fitness levels higher and maintain those levels.
What the West Indies needs is for all of these quick bowlers to be available for selection together and for all three of them to be fit and on the field together for a sustained period of time. We need Fidel, Kemar and Jerome at the top of their game, fit and ready and that is what has been lacking.
We need all of these boys fit and raring to go and it will definitely help the team to perform better and win more games.
PakPassion.net : We hear all the time that world cricket needs a strong West Indies side. However in recent times we haven’t seen the West Indies team struggle. Where is it going wrong at the moment in your opinion?
Courtney Walsh : We just have not been playing good and consistent cricket. It’s something we are working on and there are signs of improvement. For example the first Test in India is one that I felt we could have done much better. But the key is to improve our levels of consistency and to raise the standards of performance from all of the players. Consistency in performance remains the key for the current West Indies team.
PakPassion.net : It’s a travesty that Chris Gayle is not currently featuring for the West Indies. Your thoughts on the Gayle versus WICB affair?
Courtney Walsh : I would love to see Chris Gayle back in West Indies colours. Both parties need to move on, forget what has happened and for the sake of West Indies cricket to move forward and leave what’s happened in the past.
Chris is a good friend, he is someone who I have coached a little in the past when he first started playing cricket and he went to the same school as I. We need Chris back on the field for the West Indies. It will be a huge lift for everyone involved in West Indies cricket when Chris takes the field again for the West Indies.
PakPassion.net : A few pundits and fans around the world are saying that Darren Sammy isn’t the right man to be leading the West Indies side. Your thoughts on Sammy as skipper?
Courtney Walsh : I fully endorse Darren Sammy as captain. I think he’s doing a fantastic job. Yes his form has not been tremendous and has dipped a little of late but I think he is doing a good job as captain. You cannot question his performances in the Test arena. In one day internationals recently he picked up an injury and didn’t fully recover from it, but I have no problems at all with Darren Sammy as captain.
PakPassion.net : We are seeing Twenty20 cricket becoming hugely popular around the world. It wasn’t a format that you played in and some are worried about the future of Test cricket. Your thoughts on the future of Test cricket?
Courtney Walsh : Test cricket is the number one format and I sincerely hope that it remains that way. I’m sorry that I never got the chance to play the Twenty over format as I’m sure I would have enjoyed it. No bowler likes to see the ball flying to the boundary on a regular basis but the challenge would have been a good one. Twenty20 brings the fans to the stadia, it puts people on seats but there has to be some caution here as overkill can put the fans off too.
PakPassion.net : What can the ICC and the Cricket Boards around the world do to ensure that Test cricket retains its status as the number one format?
Courtney Walsh : I think it’s important to set up the Test championship so that teams can compete for the number one spot in a play off every 2 or 3 years or however long the ICC want to hold the play off. That battle for the number one spot will add extra interest and more intensity. It will also add more interest from a fan’s perspective. The Test championship really needs to be implemented soon by the ICC.
PakPassion.net : Your own future, do tell us all what your plans are?
Courtney Walsh : I’m still involved in West Indies cricket. I worked with the West Indies Under 19s on their last couple of tours. I want to play an active part in helping West Indies cricket in future and I want to help West Indies cricket in any way I can.
I want to put something back into West Indies cricket. From working with the Under 19s if that leads to working with one of the regional teams then that will be great too.
However if things don’t work out at home, then I have to go overseas to continue working in cricket and to develop my coaching, then I am prepared to do that also.
Full interview: http://www.pakpassion.net/ppforum/showthread.php?t=147969