West Indies cricket has been in turmoil in the last few years, not only the level of cricket has gone down but also the interest of the fans as there have been empty stands in the ongoing India’s tour of West Indies. Former West Indies pacer Andy Roberts refuses to believe that the current squad has any fast bowler, not even Alzarri Joseph.
“He is not fast. No, he is not fast. He bowls medium pace at 85 and 86 miles,” said Roberts told Hindustan Times. “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,” he adds.
Roberts, a vital member of the lethal West Indies bowling attack of 1970s and 80s, believes cricket is becoming a sissy’s game as the changes in the sport are taking away players’ aggression. “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,” said the 66-year old.
Comparing the modern cricket with his cricketing days, Roberts said, cricket was for people with a lion’s heart and not for those who were chicken-hearted. He also believes the game of cricket is not for women and it is a gentlemen’s game.
“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. 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.
He also questions the need of fast bowlers concentrating on spending time in the gym rather than focusing on running. Roberts, who featured in 47 Tests and scalped 202 wickets, said, “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.
Roberts feels the current West Indies squad lacks strength despite having gaps between two matches.
“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 a 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.”