The West Indies excelled at fast bowling for such a proud cricketing nation. Despite not quite meeting the same standards nowadays, a look back at the archives reveals a frightening array of talent which terrorized batsmen for decades. In the past, the West Indies have been known for their speed, accuracy, and brutality, and here we have selected the Top 10 pace bowlers of West Indies:
1. Malcolm Marshall
Malcolm Marshall is among the most well-known names in the history of fast bowlers. He made his international test debut in 1978 against India but came into recognition after taking the wickets of Mike Gatting, Brian Rose, and Peter Willey whilst playing England in the year 1980. He is well-known for his lightning-quick, perfect length bowling, and unplayable deliveries. Additionally, he seemed to enjoy roughing up the man at the crease. He produced an incredible figure of 1651 wickets at an average of 19.10 in just 408 games. In a series of seven successive test series from 1982 to 1986, he was able to take 21 or more wickets for each of the seven series, which demonstrated his talent to all watching. This made him placed at the top of his list.
2. Michael Holding
Michael Holding, one of the well-known former pace bowlers of West Indies, was popularly known as ‘Whispering Death’ due to his silent, light-footed pace. Michael made his international debut in November 1975 against the Australian international squad containing the famous Denis Lillee. The first time he stood out on the international stage was in 1976 against England, when he took 14 wickets for 149 runs, a record still standing today. One of Holding's biggest contributions to cricket is his bowling pace, which terrified batsmen, and this made him stand in the second position on this list.
3. Curtley Ambrose
One of the best bowlers of the West Indies was Sir Curtley Elconn Lynwall Ambrose. He made his international test debut in the year 1988 against Pakistan, where he proved to be one of the top bowlers with amazing figures of 4 for 39 from 10 overs. In his entire career, he was known for his accuracy and bounce, as well as his Yorker which was very effective against batsmen when he played. Further to this, he was once considered the best bowler in world cricket. He was a very economical bowler who could be relied upon to keep things tight with his control and rhythmic action. This led to many of his wickets and holds the third position in this list.
4. Courtney Walsh
Courtney Walsh made his international test debut against Australia in 1984 where he took two wickets for 43 runs. During his time as a teammate of Curtley Ambrose, he and Ambrose formed an effective opening bowling partnership for the West Indies. He was the faster bowler of the two but also very accurate, making the pair a deadly partnership. It is quite an achievement for a fast bowler to bowl over 5000 overs in a Test career. In addition, Welsh is one of just 3 cricketers to have taken over 500 wickets in a Test career, which speaks volumes of his skill and talent. In addition to being a good bowler, he was known for his ability to catch batsmen out with changes in pace.
5. Joel Garner
Joel Garner played for the highly successful West Indies team in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Garner made his international debut against Pakistan. Due to his height (6’8”), he got his nickname ‘Big Bird’. In addition to his height, he was a fast bowler who bowled with great bounce, especially on hard pitches. He also bowled a very nice yorker, which batters found difficult to handle. As a bowler, he took 259 wickets at just over 20 on average, playing 58 Tests in total. Those are pretty special numbers and illustrate why he is so admired in West Indies cricket. Similarly effective on the limited-overs cricket field, he played 98 games for them and took 146 wickets, which was a batsman's worst nightmare!
6. Colin Croft
Colin Croft made his international test debut against Pakistan in the year 1977. It was his unusual style of bowling that allowed him to angle the ball into right-handed batters, not to mention his speed and aggression, knowing when he needed to bounce the ball to give the batsman a scare. Despite not having a lengthy career in international cricket, he ended up playing 27 tests and took 125 wickets at a strike rate of 23.30. He played 121 matches overall and took 428 wickets, which made him placed in the sixth position on this list.
7. Anderson Roberts
An additional member of the dreaded team of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Anderson Roberts made his international cricket debut in 1947 against England. Also, a short-lived Test cricketer with his last Test match in 1983, he is known for following a slower delivery with a faster one to surprise batsmen. He was famous for his use of short delivery to get the batsman out. As a performer, he took 202 wickets at an average of 25.61, which is comparable with other great bowlers. He also claimed 10 wickets in two separate matches, which is not common among bowlers. With his incredible records, he holds the seventh position on this list.
8. Wesley Hall
Wesley Hall made his full test international cricket debut in 1958 against India. He formed a successful bowling partnership straight away with Roy Gilchrist. During his first match against Pakistan the following year, he became the first West Indian cricketer to take a hat-trick of wickets. It was during the 1960/61 series against Australia that Hall played a key role in perhaps the most enduring Test series in history for the West Indies.
9. Charlie Griffith
Charlie Griffith made his international test cricket debut in the year 1960 against England. The combo of Griffith and Wes Hall was deadly bowling duos. They once sent down a ball that fractured the skull of batsman Nari Contractor. Griffith could bowl on a length that batsmen felt they had to play that led to him taking many wickets from edges or nicks. In all, Griffith played 28 games for England between 1963 and 1969, where he took 94 wickets at an average of 28.54. His best performance came against England in 1963 when he took 6 for 36 in the first innings of the Headingley Test. Overall, he had 32 wickets for that Test series, demonstrating his potency with the ball.
10. Ian Bishop
One of the modern players of West Indies, Ian Bishop made his international debut in 1989 against India, where he performed well. Despite his fast pace and outswing, he managed to reach 100 wickets in only 21 Tests. He was also tall, so he was able to add an extra bounce to his delivery. His use of seams and swing caused a lot of problems for the Indian batsmen, who couldn't handle his pace and seams. But due to severe injuries, he played his last match for his country in 1998.