Advent of T20 cricket has ruined the art of fast bowling, feels Andy Roberts

Former West Indies pacer Andy Roberts on Saturday said that the current crop of fast bowlers are more focused on their line and lengths instead of bowling fast.

Speaking to former Ireland captain Niall O’ Brien on the sideline of the quarter-final clash between India and Bangladesh, the former West Indies pacers says the advent of T20 cricket has ruined the art of fast bowling and it makes him sad to see the current fast bowling unit of West Indies.

“To me, the fast bowling in West Indies is not as encouraging as it was 15-20 years ago. Even after the greats have retired, we still had a few youngsters, who were coming through. I don’t know if it is the advent of T20 cricket that is not allowing bowlers and bowl fast. People are more focused on line and length these days instead of real fast bowling,” said Roberts, who formed the formidable pace-quartet for West Indies in the 1970s and early 80s.

The pace-quartet comprised 4 genuine fast bowlers, namely Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Colin Croft.

Roberts, who was also the integral part of the West Indies World Cup winning team in 1975 and 1979, says even today anyone who runs and bowls fast excites him.

“Anybody, who runs and bowls fast is what I like and who I like because you can transform from a good fast bowler to a good swing bowler or a good medium pacer bowler. But You can’t go from being a medium pacer to a fast bowler. It takes a lot out to do that,” said Roberts, who turned 71 on Saturday.

Robert took 202 wickets in 47 Tests at a bowling average of 25.63 and 87 wickets in 56 ODI’s at a bowling average of 20.35.

Roberts still has a passion for the game but it hurts him too deeply to see the decline of West Indies cricket.

“I have a great passion for the game and especially West Indies cricket. So to me, it is very sad to see that West Indies are not taking part in the final stage of the ICC Men’s U-19 World Cup,” he said.

Roberts was the first cricketer from Antigua, who went on to play Test cricket for the West Indies, but growing up he too had a few fellow fast bowlers to look up to.

“It was a good sign coming from here. There were better fast bowlers than myself from Antigua in the 1960s and early 70s. Lester Bird (former Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda) and Hubert Anthonyson, these are names who are not well known but for our generations back then in the Antigua circuit, they were inspirations,” he said.

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