Courtney Walsh, best remembered for a world record Test double of 519 wickets (at the time) and 43 ducks, stayed away from the cricket fraternity since his retirement in 2001. He was busy running The Courtney Walsh Foundation back home in Jamaica, an institution that promotes Street T20 cricket, Disability cricket, and other projects that provide opportunities for youths and bring about changes in their lives through the sport.
Professor Walsh: West Indian cricket legend Courtney Walsh
throws a boomerang during an event in Sydney in 2005.
However, he felt an urge to revive West Indies cricket, a process he has started recently at the U-19 level. He is currently in Vishakapatnam as coach of West Indies for the U-19 Quadrangular tournament that also includes India, Sri Lanka and Australia. The Jamaican pace legend intends to coach the senior team in the future.
He spoke to MiD DAY yesterday:
How does it feel to return to India? This is a country where you took 43 wickets in seven Tests, enjoyed lot of success....
It feels really good to be back here (to India). Good to get the opportunity of bringing the U-19 boys to play cricket here. I've always loved the people here �they are very friendly. I am always ready to come to India at any given opportunity.
How are you faring with your new role as coach? Is this something you are willing to do going forward for the senior West Indies team too?
It's definitely something (coaching West Indies) I will look to take up at some time. I am still learning a lot about the art of coaching. I've been speaking to a lot of my friends back home. But then again I've discovered my own ways to handle a team, especially coaching an U-19 team.
The ICC claims that the new rules to ODI cricket will "even out the contest between bat and ball". Are you convinced with that?
It will definitely make it a little more competitive. Especially for the seam bowlers who will get a lot more chance (to succeed) with two new balls (from two ends). Having said that, it will depend a lot on the conditions and the pitches. In Indian surfaces it won't matter much because there's not much for the seamers anyway. They will lose out on reverse swing.
In your prime, you bowled countless overs for West Indies, Gloucestershire and Jamaica. You bowled a record 30,019 balls in your career. Why is that sort of stamina missing in today's fast bowlers?
Stamina will be built when you enjoy bowling and don't get tired. I used to enjoy running. I just used to enjoy bowling. I wanted to run in (to bowl) each and every day of my life as a cricketer. Lot of it (lack of stamina) is happening today because bowlers are getting accustomed to a lot of changes in the game. Now, you can't lease out a bowler to a county in England because there is so much cricket already. Maybe a lot of young bowlers are looking at bowling as a job they have to do, rather than something they love. But I still feel there are a lot of positives to look forward to. The game is changing a lot.
You were extremely fit. That's another persisting problem in the world, especially with Indian seamers. Why are so many fast bowlers getting injured these days?
It's a tricky business is modern day fast bowling, and how to keep your body fit for so much cricket. There is T20 cricket, ODI cricket, and first-class cricket; bowlers are not able to keep up the pace. Perhaps a lot of them are not learning about their own bodies and how to remain fit. I wouldn't know because in my days, we never played so much back-to-back cricket. In India, it's a little hard for fast bowlers. I have always sympathised with them because there's not enough assistance in these pitches.
But, even despite taking breaks, there are fast bowlers breaking down frequently...
Like I said, it's about understanding your own body and how to keep it fit. Nobody else can help you sometimes.
Is it dangerous to expose young fast bowlers to too much T20?
It's definitely a cause of concern. But natural fast bowlers will always be able to bowl long spells. What is happening is that there are some youngsters trying to fit in as fast bowlers because T20 has given them that opportunity. And that's not bad for the game. Even if they weren't meant to be true fast bowlers, they are getting a chance to get into the action at a young age. It wouldn't be all that bad for the game.
Do you ever see WIPA and WICB working as a cohesive unit towards the betterment of West Indies cricket? And what is necessary for that to happen?
Definitely, we are all working towards that. I don't think there can be a timeframe set for this, but efforts are on. I am hopeful that things change soon.
Would you have ever played IPL?
Yes, if given the opportunity. Definitely, I loved challenges, and from what I see, IPL and T20 cricket is definitely a great challenge for fast bowlers. I would have got the opportunity to bowl a lot of slower balls and mix up my bowling, and learn new tricks.