Alzarri Joseph Is Not An Out And Out Fast Bowler, Says Pace Legend Andy Roberts
West Indies cricket is in ruins. The past sheen is lost and the current team is nowhere close to the level of competitiveness and passion which the legends of the past displayed during their time. The degradation of quality has made former cricketers upset and angry.
Witnessing the following generations showing lack of qualities that defined their style of cricket has been tough for former cricketers. Former fast bowler Andy Roberts is one such dejected personality.
Roberts was one part of the dreaded fast bowling quartet that ruled the cricket in the 70’s and 80’s. Along with Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Joel Garner; the pace battery caused a lot of distress to the batsmen all over the world.
But Roberts feels that West Indies has lost it culture of fast bowling and the recent names that have emerged are not as quick as the quartet used to be.
Aggression as a means of success
Roberts was Antigua’s representative in the lethal West Indies bowling quartet. He recalled those days of cricket when aggresion was at its peak. Howevr, the 66 year old noe feels that the tough regulations have made cricket a ‘sissy’s game.’
“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, who took 202 wickets in a nine-year Test career from 1974, also felt that modern day fitness techniques also have played a role in cutting off the pace from the game.
Roberts, like many former fast bowlers has been a long-time critic of the ‘gym training’ method. He feels that if the basics are executed correctly, a bowler can have a successful long run at any level.
“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.
Alzarri Joseph is a medium pacer
Alzarri Joseph, the 20 year old fast bowler, is the latest promising fast bowler to emerge from the region. The young man has been considered to be a bowler with some serious pace. However, the Antiguan legend refuses to even consider him an out and out fast bowler.
“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.
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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