An appreciation: the greatest (extended) bowling unit of all time


Actions. Effect. Impact. A quick appreciation. Some from recordings, some from the memory of matches seen when young.

a. Andy Roberts – His middle name should be efficiency. Such an intelligent bowler, working on the batsman all the time, knowing all the batsman’s weaknesses, and having enough skills to execute the downfall. The West Indian pace attack was not all about brute strength. It never would be, when you had bowlers like Roberts and Marshall. Here’s some Roberts (and the others of the fearsome foursome), via youtube. (Click here)

b. Malcolm Marshall – a lovely, smooth bowling action like his should be watched on slow motion, like Holding’s, correct? Very incorrect. Malcolm Marshall is best in real time, because only in real time will you be able to understand the impossibly, unbelievably quick-arm release. Here’s a youtube video to compare the slow motion vs real time versions (Click here).

c. Colin Croft – Has there been an uglier bowling action? And doesn’t is seem even uglier because you invariably have him with the Rolls-Royce purr of Holding, the clinical deconstruction of a batsman of Roberts or the easy, loose limbed lope of Joel Garner. This here was brute strength. Here’s the brute. (Click here).

d. Curtly Ambrose – Curtly Elconn Lynwall Ambrose remains my favourite quick bowler, even after all these years. So much so that I remember to have wished Sachin and Azhar to be quiet and not hit shots for the while that Amby was bowling. (Not that he needed my wishes, nobody could hit Amby). Apart from Amby, the only other bowling action which seemed tuned for thousands and thousands of repetitions was that of McGrath. And Amby was about 5-10 mph quicker. Doesn’t the bowling action remind one of the King Cobra raising its hood, pausing for a nanosecond, and the bearing down on its prey? Here’s some Amby from Youtube (click here).

e. Patrick Patterson – And here’s THE brute. 1987, West Indies vs India. The first match after Gavaskar’s retirement… And India is trampled over by Patterson. All out for 75. I remember every delivery in that innings. And this was when he used to really raise his front leg up chest level before delivery. Could not find clips of that… this was probably when he was already a bit on the wane. Here’s Patto. (Click here).

f. Ian Bishop – Petered out talent. And what a talent he was. I remember thinking what a lovely action he has… and then later being told that while flowing and elegant, it was an open-and-close action, with the top half of his body being side-on, and the bottom half front-on… and that’s what resulted in the injuries. But this guy, he could have been a great. (Click here).

g. Michael Holding – Smooth? Yes. Violent? Yes. He must have been an immensely fit man to have bowled the way he had… the effortless, hang-loose coiling and uncoiling of his body just before the final hurl, was incredible to say the least. In contrast to Marshall, Holding should be watched in slow motion. Again and again. (click here)

h. Joel Garner – A loose lope. Then the extension, and then the delivery. The delivery action was just a way to make the best use of his best gifts… He never needed to be fast, I guess. (click here)

i. Courtney Walsh – A guy I used to know bowled with a near replica of Walsh’s bowling action. And he used to bowl leg spin. Enough said, I guess. All of the above bowling actions have a chance (however little) of being replicated. But not this one. (Click here).

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