Finding as well as nurturing more regional fast bowlers who can bowl in the 85 to 90mph range and be penetrative, is key to developing the West Indies team across all formats, says former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop.
“West Indies need to develop some of its fast bowlers. Shannon Gabriel is showing he is a hard-worker and has pace, but he needs to step up especially in his Test match record and I know he wants to improve.
“But we need more bowlers like him, three or four guys that will give the team that cut and thrust across all formats of the game. That is very high up on the agenda,” said Bishop, now a highly respected cricket broadcaster.
West Indies’ fast bowling stocks were further depleted with Jerome Taylor’s sudden retirement because he felt disrespected when Courtney Browne, the chairman of selectors, asked him to play in the warm-up game against the visitors.
The bowling attack in the first Test, with captain Jason Holder and Carlos Braithwaite leading the pace compartment, was termed “one of the weakest attacks” by Sanjay Manjrekar, the former Indian cricketer.
“Holder and Carlos are steady, Jason has accuracy and control – but those guys aren’t strike bowlers and need to work in an ideal group of other bowlers,” reasoned Bishop.
Bishop, whose excellent 43-match Test career was cut short due to injury, further spoke on some of upcoming quicks. He showered praise on Alzarri Joseph, the Under-19 World Cup winning fast bowler whose pace has impressed during the ongoing CPL. He hit AB de Villiers on the head during a match in Barbados and on Wednesday, earned a call-up for the second Test in Jamaica, starting tomorrow.
“We have Alzarri Joseph who is at a stage of his development where we can say just play him in a first class games and sit on it. Yes, that is an avenue but somehow we need to expedite his development somehow.
“I don’t know if he is totally ready for international level, but to restate my point, one of the ways to help his development would certainly be to have him around the West Indies squads right now.
“Bowling to Windies batters in the nets, speaking to former legends (and) fast bowlers and working with the strength and conditioning guys, because I am not sure what is there in Antigua with regards to his expertise.”
Along with Taylor’s retirement, Ravi Rampaul deciding to go Kolpak with Surrey after being ignored since their team’s India tour pull-out in 2014, coupled with Kemar Roach’s loss of form have left gaping holes in the pace bowling ranks.
“Ravi Rampaul is a big loss, particularly in white ball cricket and all formats. Despite all his injuries, he always showed he was a capable bowler – but unfortunately that is gone and we have to find ways to get other bowlers.
“Roach has gone off the boil and has lost pace. I was glad to see him selected in warm-up games, but for West Indies sake we need to find ways to rehabilitate him somewhere close to his best.”
Bishop concluded with his view on other young fast bowlers such as Miguel Cummins, Ronsford Beaton, Delorn Johnson and Sheldon Cottrell.
“Miguel will get his chance to show what he is all about, but he is also more of the fast-medium variety, which is not ideal.
“Johnson and Cottrell would be ideal, both tall and left arm – but Delorn is fast medium, while Cottrell has the pace we want, but inconsistency is his biggest issue.
“Beaton has been up and down on the domestic circuit despite showing much potential. The pitches need improvement to help them, they need strengthening and further fast bowling education,” Bishop said.