By Neto Baptiste
Agreeing that pitch preparation is a serious issue in the Caribbean, former West Indies and national fast bowler Sir Andy Roberts believes fast bowlers are not aggressive enough.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo sports show, Sir Andy said that as a fast bowler, batsmen must feel uncomfortable whenever they run in to deliver, and that he is not seeing the usual fierceness associated with West Indies fast bowlers in the current crop.
“Aggressive doesn’t mean you have to be up in somebody’s face, but you can be aggressive in your approach, you can be aggressive in your steering because that’s one of the things I did. I never swore but when I looked at you and I see you turn away, then I say ‘yes, I have you because you can’t look me in the eye’, and that is what is required. I see many West Indian fast bowlers going back to the days of Mervyn Dillion, Reon King and when they get hit for boundaries they smile, they don’t get upset,” he said.
In four innings, England has racked up 1,352 runs against the West Indies with a highest of 507 for nine declared in the first innings of the Barbados Test. There has been criticism regarding the quality of pitches with many pundits highlighting the fact that they offered very little for fast bowlers.
Sir Andy warns that what the bowler put in is what he gets out.
“The ball doesn’t come off the pitch faster than you release it, so if you’re a fast bowler then it means you’re a fast bowler, you can’t be a fast bowler and a fast medium bowler. What is being taught today is line and length and bowl fourth and fifth stump outside the off stump, but instead of attacking the batsman, attacking the stumps, they are bowling outside of off stump, which is what they practice so sometimes it seems as though the coaches are at fault sometimes. In order to get the best out of the fast bowlers, you have to encourage them to bowl fast,” the former player said.
The Antiguan, who claimed 202 wickets in 47 Tests, hinted also there is a need for more creative thinking in terms of on-field strategy.
“I thought Alzarri, the last spell at Sir Viv, bowled as quick as I’ve seen him bowl and even some of the balls in Barbados. We need to change some things around because I believe Alzarri should have been given the new ball in Barbados. We tried something and nothing happened, but try something else because he might not get wickets, but with the pace he creates uncertainty amongst the batsmen and that is what or all that is required,” Sir Andy said.
The third and final Test in the Apex series is slated to start on Thursday in Grenada.