I'm watching the first test between the West Indies and England. Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan are not so much charging as they are chipping towards a century each, and Sarwan has just marked 5000 test runs. With all the discussion going into this test about the fitness of the England bowlers, I got to thinking about the West Indies bowling legacy, and a question I was recently asked: "Who is your pick for the best West Indian bowler of all time?"
Now, the phrase " of all time" is a tricky one. And I'm not sure it's a fair question to ask, unless you're talking to a cricket historian. For example, when the great "Whispering Death" Michael Holding played what was described as "the greatest over in Test history", which he bowled in 1981 in Barbados to English batsman Geoff Boycott, I was 2 years old. When I did see a recording of it, I marvelled like everyone else at the pace of the over, and that final ball that saw Boycott clean bowled. But I wouldn't call that my time, and my time is all I can really speak of. I would put Holding on top based on the evidence I've seen of his greatness. And when it comes to my time, I loved to watch Curtly Ambrose, but I am overwhelmingly partial to Malcolm Marshall, who, though he was around at the same time as Holding, played his last one-day and test around five years later.
I think what impressed me about Marshall were his pace and accuracy at 5'9". We're used to fast bowlers well over 6 ft. But Marshall used to tear down the pitch in such a tight little ball, you almost didn't see when he released.
I know the sports posts bring the lurkers out of the woodwork, so if you have a pick for best West Indies bowler, do share.