The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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WI start favourites in the ODIs as Sachin isn’t around: Walsh
- A Telegraph Exclusive
- ‘India’s strategy to bring just two specialist spinners may backfire’

Montego Bay: Dr Courtney Andrew Walsh, Jamaica’s ambassador-at-large, is tough to locate. And, when you do, it’s tougher getting the one-time world record-holder for the most Test wickets to talk. However, he spared around 20 minutes for The Telegraph (on Monday evening) at his truly jazzy sports bar, Cuddy’z, in the heart of Kingston. Now 43, Walsh took 519 wickets in 132 Tests and 227 in 205 ODIs. He quit in 2000-01.

The following are excerpts

On the forthcoming Tests and ODIs between India and the West Indies

I reckon the West Indies start favourites in the ODIs, particularly as the master (Sachin Tendulkar) isn’t around... As for the Tests, it’s difficult right now to identify who has the better chance... The trend of the (five-match) one-day series will, I assume, give a reasonable idea as to how the four Tests are going to unfold.

On whether there’s another reason for the West Indies starting favourites in ODIs

Because they’re playing at home... Usually, home advantage is a factor.

On the West Indies’ 5-0 win over Zimbabwe

It shouldn’t be seen as anything more than a warm-up to the more challenging task... After all, we know Zimbabwe don’t have the strongest team. Having said that, the West Indies were consistent and that’s a good sign.

On the West Indies having struggled for years now

Inexperience is definitely one reason... I accept it’s taking some of the players too long to settle down, but that’s the way things are.

On Brian Lara getting back the captaincy

You could look at it as a positive move. Equally, you could say it would have been nice had one of the youngsters got the job... Now, it’s up to Brian to mould the team and we’ve got to wait and see just what he does. He will be judged by results.

On whether Ramnaresh Sarwan could have got the captaincy

Not only Sarwan... The selectors could have looked at a couple of others as well.

On Team India

I hardly follow cricket and, so, can’t specifically comment on the younger players... The batting is strong, but I really can’t talk about the depth in the fast bowling department... (After a pause) You’ve come with just two specialist spinners and there ’s a chance that strategy may backfire. The nature of wickets in the West Indies has changed.

On Rahul Dravid

He’s a complete batsman and has always been competitive... I won’t comment about his captaincy as I hardly follow cricket passionately.

On the burnout issue

Well, the players have to look after their bodies... They know best.

On the qualities which go into the making of a top-draw fast bowler

Focus, determination... Fitness has become very important...

On his idol

I idolised almost all the West Indian quicks of the Seventies ' Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall... Later, I held Curtly Ambrose in high esteem.

On the greats

The ones I’ve named plus Dennis Lillee, Wasim Akram and Glenn McGrath. There’s no need for me to elaborate.

On whether captaincy put him under pressure

Never... I was always ready for challenges... I was up for whatever was needed to be done.

On his feelings when his world record got broken (by Muttiah Muralidharan)

Aren’t records meant to be broken' I’d myself got past Kapil Dev (at Sabina Park), who’d held the record for six years...

On the West Indies Cricket Board not taking advantage of his experience

I don’t know why... Not that it has bothered me.

On what keeps him so busy

(Laughs) I’ve got this sports bar... It’s a partnership and I wish I could be the sole owner... Then, I own a sports goods store (again in Kingston)... I also do a bit of commentary in the UK... As you know, I’m the country’s ambassador-at-large... There are, therefore, a few things on my plate.

On Cuddy’z (incidentally, his nickname) being marketed as the “ultimate” destination

As you’ve seen, there’s quite a bit of memorabilia... Cuddy’z started less than two years ago and, thankfully, has a loyal clientele.

Finally, his message for youngsters

Enjoy cricket and enjoy life. Of course, you’ve got to focus on the game, but there are other things in life...

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