He has taken more than 500 wickets in the Test matches, has bowled more than 5000 Test overs in the longest format of the game and he also holds the record of taking 100 five-wicket hauls in the First-Calls cricket, but legendary West Indies bowler Courtney Walsh was a bowler who will always be remembered for the spirit with which he played the game of Cricket and carried the weight of the Windies cricket on his shoulders.
Born on October 30, 1962, fast bowler Courtney Walsh started his professional career by playing for his home team – Jamaica. The first moment of glory for Walsh came in the year 1979 when he took 10 wickets in an innings in school cricket. He continued to play good cricket and three years after that amazing performance, he made his First-class cricket debut. He played his maiden First-Class match in the year 1981 and proved to be a match-winner for his team.
After taking wickets in almost every match he played till 1984, Walsh received his maiden Test call-up when the West Indies was getting ready to play Australia at Perth. He was included in the side and took 2 wickets in the first inning. He had a successful start to his Test career and took 16 wickets during the series. Fortunately, he made his ODI debut in the same season during the World Series Cup. He took one wicket in his debut match and gave away 47 runs in his 10 overs.
Even after giving some strong performances, it was not until four years later that he became a regular member of the West Indies pace attack.
Walsh was at his lethal best in the next two seasons and took 29 wickets from the seven matches he played during these seasons. This also included a five-wicket haul against New Zealand. For his contributions, Wisden was named as one of the Cricketers of the Year in the year 1987. In the 1987-88 season, the West Indies pacer toured India and played four Test matches against them, taking 26 wickets at an average of 16.80. In the first Test match of the series, he claimed 6 wickets in the first inning and picked up 5 in the next inning.
The cricketing fraternity knew that a legend has come to the game and it will be highly unlikely that someone would be able to stop him.
He proved his dominance during the West Indies tour of Australia in 1988-89, Walsh played five Tests and picked up 17 wickets at an average of 29.41. His best bowling in the series came in the first innings of the first match, taking four wickets for 62 runs, including a hat-trick.
Seeing his contributions, Walsh was appointed as the skipper of the West Indies team in the year 1994. Richie Richardson was told to rest because he was diagnosed with “acute fatigue syndrome”. He took the forwards with him and West Indies kept on conquering its opponents. Walsh continued to annihilate his opponents and took 62 wickets in the year 1995 at an average of 21.75 runs per wicket. But he would go on to better his performance in the year 2000, when he took 66 Test wickets at an average of 18.69, including 34 wickets in the Test series against England at an average of 12.82 runs per wicket.
In March 2000, in his 114th Test against Zimbabwe at Sabina Park, Walsh became the ‘king of the kings’ as he went past Kapil Dev’s record of 434 wickets to become the highest wicket-keeper in Test cricket. He achieved the accomplishment in his 114th match, 17 matches less than Kapil.
He played his last Test against South Africa in 2001 where the West Indies team won the match. His last ODI came in January 2000, against New Zealand.
Walsh was a legend for the West Indies cricket and not just for them but for the game as a whole. He took the legacy from greats like Malcolm Marshall and made his own personal identity as “one of the most lethal bowlers in the cricketing history”.
Whether in or out of the game, he will always be called a ‘LEGEND OF THE SPORT’.
About the Author
Sports Journalist by profession, a Cricket Fanatic by passion. Aayush Sharma has been following the game of cricket since childhood and considers Sachin Tendulkar as his idol. When in free time, he loves to read books or go out and play some gully cricket with friends. For him, Tennis ace Roger Federer and F1 Legend Michael Schumacher are the only sportspersons that reach the level of Tendulkar