Unsmiling, mean and measured, Andy Roberts is gruff as he always has been. Except when he talks of pure fast bowlers and sees them crank up hostile pace — men like Bumrah and Archer, the latest entrants to the hallowed brethren.
Like Sheila, Sri Lanka, Shillingford, shipshape, shadow…” He mumbles those words again and asks: “Now you tell me, do I stammer? No, I don’t. It wasn’t the case. Once upon a time, just to pronounce Sheila I would have taken 10 minutes.”
While most of the cricketing firmament agrees that concussion is a serious condition, they differ on the substitution rule. Some feel that it’s harsh on bowlers, who are more prone to injuries in the middle of the match.
When teens of his age were happy scoring 50s in U-14 matches, he was churning out 250s, when teens of his age were content facing 100 balls in the nets, he would be satisfied only if he had faced a minimum of 1,000.
It’s been three years since he retired as the chief groundsman after tending Sabina Park for 49 years. But he unfailingly turns up the day before — sometimes even a week before — a Test match. And leaves only after the last ball has been bowled.
Chickie — his original name is Nigel, but barely anyone knows it, had once famously stopped the Antiguan traffic — apparently the first the city island had ever witnessed—to watch good friend score the then fastest hundred, off 56 balls, against England in 1986.