Despite the morale deflating disappointments of their New Zealand tour, West Indies cricket fans, the virtual handful that might now still remain in existence, as well as the team’s Selectors may have been encouraged by trends in recent matches being played elsewhere. In the recently concluded Ashes Test Series between the Aussie hosts and their Pommie archrivals England, pacers accounted for the majority of the wickets that were taken. For the Aussies 66 wickets fell to their pace trio of Starc, Hazelwood and Cummins, as opposed to the 21 that were taken by their frontline spinner Lyon. For England, the seamers Anderson, Broad, Ball, Woakes and Overton accounted for 44 of the 50 wickets taken.
Over in South Africa the trend has continued in the Saffies current Series against India with the hosts four prong pace attack rendering havoc among India’s batsmen to earn back to back victories in the first two Tests. The reason all this may be heartening for the West Indies lies in the fact that, not unlike Guyana’s continuing recent discoveries of vast oil reserves in its offshore waters, there now seems to be similar evidence of burgeoning talent reserves of young pacers in the West Indies.
Although his Test performances to date haven’t exactly set the world on fire, Alzarri Joseph, still very young at age 21, has so captured 15 wickets in the 6 matches he’s played at a moderate average of 38.86. Joseph has been fairly impressive with his pace, easily clocking over 140 kph and managing to consistently maintain those speeds throughout all of his spells.
Joseph of course came to the fore after his outstanding performances in the 2016 U19 50 Overs World Cup, which the West Indies eventually won. His opening bowling partner for that tournament was Barbados’ Chemar Holder who just recently made his professional debut in the West Indies Regional 4 day Championships. Playing for the Barbados Pride against the defending Champions Guyana, Holder had impressive returns of a 5 for in the first innings followed by a 3 for in the second when only five wickets fell.
Holder bowled with good pace and from the little bit of video footage I saw of the match, his action was impressively smooth. So much so that I was reminded of the very first time I saw a certain gentleman named Michael Holding bowling as a 18 year old in an U19 match for Jamaica against Guyana.
Joseph and Holder are now two very exciting fast bowling prospects the West Indies can work on. If he can sort out the recently highlighted problems with his action, Guyana’s Ronsford Beaton would be another. Add to that list the Jamaicans Thomas and Leveridge and a core of exciting, quick enough, pacers begins to present itself for future development.
Towards that end the best thing the powers that be in West Indies cricket could now possibly do as a means of ensuring that these players quickly develop to their full potential would be to send them all on a 6-8 week boot training camp under the guidance of none other than Anderson Montgomery Roberts, the long since retired former West Indies fast bowling all time great. Roberts has an acute cricket brain, all the required coaching skills and as Michael Holding has often said was the very best mentor that he ever had. If he could have helped Holding to become all that he was, I daresay he might be able to do the same for Joseph, Holder and others!