West Indies coach urging pacemen to forge their own identity

West Indies coach urging pacemen to forge their own identity

Published Jun. 9, 2019 11:35 a.m. ET

SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) — West Indies bowling coach Roddy Estwick wants to be really clear about Joel Garner, Michael Holding, Malcom Marshall, Andy Roberts or any of the other pace greats of the Caribbean. They're not in this team.

The way Jason Holder's bowling attack has started this Cricket World Cup has had some observers comparing them with the famous Windies pace batteries of the 1970s and 80s.

Not Estwick, a former first-class bowler from Barbados who played in England and South Africa and has been West Indies bowling coach since 2016.

"We can't keep looking back," he said Sunday, on the eve of the World Cup group game against South Africa. "We have to respect the past — our great bowlers of the past obviously they are very important in our history. But what we've got now, this group of bowlers now, they have got to find their own identity. They have got to find their own way."


Having said that, Estwick certainly was happy to buy into the vibe.

"Every West Indian is in this. This is big for the Caribbean people," he said. "One thing that we have been stressing is to go out and put a smile on the people's faces in the Caribbean.

"We want people to wake up in the morning with a smile on their face, seeing West Indians playing good cricket."

The West Indies were the pioneering powerhouses of one-day international cricket, winning the first two World Cup titles in 1975 and '79 and finishing runners-up in 1983 on the back of their swashbuckling batting and fearsome fast bowling. They haven't been back to a final since.

They weren't even ranked highly enough to get a direct place when the 2019 tournament was cut from 14 teams to 10, having to secure one of the two spots on offer (along with Afghanistan) in qualifying.

But things are changing. An ODI series win at home against top-ranked England seemed to be the confidence boost they needed.

The West Indies blasted Pakistan out for 105 in a convincing opening win and had five-time champion Australia in serious trouble at 38-4 before a 15-run loss in their second game.

They're next up against a South Africa lineup coming off three straight losses and desperate for a victory to stay in contention.

Monday's match at Hampshire's Rose Bowl should have shaped up as a barrage of pace, with Kagiso Rabada leading South Africa's attack. But Dale Steyn's withdrawal and other injuries have reduced the Proteas' options in the pace department and forced a strategic rethink.

Rabada likes the idea of the pacemen dominating cricket, but his concern is more on Chris Gayle and the West Indies batsmen than Holder, Oshane Thomas, Sheldon Cottrell and Andre Russell.

Our "batsmen should be focused on their fast bowlers. I'm focused on their batters because my job is to get their batters out," Rabada said, smiling, when asked about the pace duel. "I'm not thinking too much about their bowlers — I'm a bowler."

Still, he doesn't mind the look of the Windies.

"It's nice to watch when they play — they've got some good pace," he said. "The West Indies have always had fast bowlers. Everyone knows about the Marshalls, the Holdings. So it's a culture, a culture of fast bowling in the West Indies and, yeah, it is nice to see. It is good for cricket."

After losses to England and Bangladesh, Rabada bowled with renewed vigor and took 2-39 against India, unlucky not to get more wickets. He got some tight, economical support from Chris Morris with the new ball. But India had too much batting firepower and won by six wickets, leaving South Africa believing they have to win their remaining six group games to have a chance of making the semifinals.

"We've just got a stiff challenge ahead of us, but we're ready to rise up to it," Rabada said. "I think we've played two of the best teams in the world. Bangladesh, we felt that we might have been a bit complacent, we talked about it, but we played England where actually we felt we really could have won.

"India, we took it right to the death, but I think that's just in our DNA as South Africans. The way we play our cricket, you know, we are always there. If you look at how we play our cricket, we never give up.

"So, we need a few things to click and we are working our way around it. And so we are looking to turn it around tomorrow."