Missing spark of the old

Windies legend Lloyd feels absence of quality fast bowlers is hurting them

Missing spark of the old

Curtly Ambrose was bowling from a run-up of no more than four giant strides as the West Indies held their practice session here at the Murdoch University’s cricket facilities on Monday. It was, in fact, a walk-up but still Ambrose, now a bowling consultant of the team, often had the batsmen in trouble.

Just a few yards away, Richie Richardson, the batting consultant, was chatting up his charges while Clive Lloyd, the chairman of selectors, kept a close eye on the proceedings, every now and then breaking into a friendly banter with his group. Though Ambrose and Richardson’s careers overlapped for a few years, they belonged to different generations of cricketers while Lloyd had been done long ago. The three, however, were part of the Caribbean sides that ruled the cricketing world with an iron fist. What West Indies will not do to get cricketers of that pedigree now?

The obvious question to Lloyd, the Big Cat, was about the lack of quality pace attack that they once used to strut around. “It's quite obvious,” Lloyd said, talking about the decline in pace attack. “We'd love to have (Andy) Roberts, (Michael) Holding, (Curtly) Ambrose and (Courtney) Walsh but it doesn't happen in any other country. We've had a little bit of a decline but we have one or two young players coming through and you'll hear about them in another year or so,” he struck a hopeful note.

When it comes to West Indies cricket, it’s almost always about their famed pace bowlers but it’s somehow conveniently forgotten that they don’t either produce the batsmen of same quality. “I wouldn't say that,” he said when suggested that the team was too dependent on Chris Gayle. “Before Zimbabwe, Gayle hadn't really contributed. It's great whenever we get a good start with him. He scores rather quickly. He's a very strong player. Whenever he takes off, it gives the team a good impetus… I think we have a formidable side. We bat to eight or nine; everybody from one to nine has done extremely well, posted big scores. So I don't think we have any problem there. Once we bat to our potential we will do extremely well,” he offered.    
     
Lloyd also sounded pretty optimistic about West Indies’ chances against India on Friday here at the WACA that holds many special memories for him. He led his side to an innings win against Australia in the first ever Test the West Indies played at this venue in 1975, smashing a 186-ball 149. West Indies have won five of the seven Tests played here, losing the last two when the decline set in. They have also won 10 of the 19 ODIs, losing eight while the other one ended in a tie against India.

“It’s been pretty good,” he said of West Indies’ record here. “We've been pretty successful here over the years. It will be a good game. India will be good opponents. They've been playing well and we've been sporadic in our play but we're hoping that this pitch will suit us quite well. It should be quite an exciting game. The point is that we have a good bowling attack, good batsmen, and a good all-round side. If we bat, we have to make enough runs to win and defend. We do have the bowlers to do so. This pitch is quite good, it's got constant bounce. It's a good cricket pitch.”

Lloyd, though, was wary of India’s attack that restricted Pakistan to 224 all out, South Africa to 177 all out and the UAE to 102 all out. “They've won three out of three,” he said. “So we can't fault their bowling or their batting. India's always a formidable side and they'll continue to be so. But when you set a standard, people expect you to keep that standard all the time. India are doing well but I hope they don't do too well on Friday.
Their pace bowling seems to be pretty good and they have a good spin bowler in (R) Ashwin. They have got a good variety, and I think they have good all-round strength. Virat Kohli has been a tremendous player over the last two years and now they have the likes of (Shikhar) Dhawan coming through. I think they should do well.”

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