Courtney A. Walsh

Overview

Courtney Andrew Walsh (born October 30, 1962 in Kingston, Jamaica) is a former international cricketer (fast bowler) who represented the West Indies from 1984 to 2001, captaining the West Indies in 22 Test matches. Walsh is best known for a remarkable opening bowling partnership along with fellow West Indian Curtly Ambrose for several years and holding the record of most Test wickets from 2000 after he broke the record of Kapil Dev. This record was later broken in 2004 by Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan.

Walsh's first claim to fame came in 1979 when he took 10 wickets in an innings in school cricket and three years later made his first-class cricket debut. He made his test debut against Australia in Perth in 1984, taking 2 wickets for 43 runs. Later that season, he also made his One Day International debut against Sri Lanka at Hobart. He first played for Gloucestershire in 1984 and was a mainstay of the side until 1998. In 1987, Walsh was named one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year. In 1988-89 at Brisbane, he took a 'complicated' hat trick, dismissing Australia's Tony Dodenaide with the last ball of the first innings and Mike Velettta and Graeme Wood with his first two deliveries in the second.  During that winter he also took 10 wickets in a Test match for this first time against India in Kingston.

In 1994, he was appointed captain of the West Indies for the tours of India and New Zealand after Richie Richardson was ordered to rest because of "acute fatigue syndrome". In 1995, he took 62 Test wickets at an average of 21.75 runs per wicket, a performance which he bettered in 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, coming close to the record for a West Indian bowler of 35 wickets in a Test series (set by Malcom Marshall in 1988). In the 1990s, his partnership with Curtley Ambrose was one of the most feared bowling attacks in world cricket.

During the first part of his career, Walsh served as the "stock" bowler in an attack featuring Marshall, Joel Garner, and later Ambrose, but after the retirement of Marshall and Garner he took the role as opening bowler. His action lacked the elegance of those bowlers, but its economy and his natural athleticism ensured he was accurate and durable, even over very long spells and he used his height (about 198cm, 0r six-foot-six) to extract occasionally vicious bounce. Even as he lost pace in the later stage of his career he continued to take wickets at an undiminished rate; teams tended to defend against him and Ambrose and attack the weaker third and fourth bowlers. Walsh played his last ODI against New Zealand in 2000 and his last Test match against South Africa in his homeland, Jamaica, in 2001.

Walsh is one of the only four bowlers to have bowled over 5,000 overs in Test cricket, the other three being spinners: Muttiah Muralitharan: of Sri Lanka and Shane Warne of Australia, and Anil Kumble of India. These four, in addition to Glenn McGrath are also the only bowlers to have taken 500 or more Test Wickets. Among the five, Walsh was not as successful although he will be remembered for his best performance, 5 wickets for just 1 run against Sri Lanka in 1986. In first-class cricket, he took 5 wickets in an innings more than 100 times and 10 wickets in a rather less flattering, as indicated by an average of seven in both Test cricket and ODIs. He also holds the record for the most Test ducks (43), but also for the most "not outs"-61 times.

His highest score, coincidentally, was 30 in both forms of the game. By the end of his career, he had such a reputation for poor batting that the crowd would cheer every ball he faced. Whether this was in appreciation of his batting or an attempt to wind up the bowling side is open to interpretation. That said, Walsh is a much loved and respected Cricketer and the West Indies have arguably yet to find a fast bowler with anything approaching his talents.

Walsh is currently a regular feature of the Lashings World XI alongside other cricket legends including Sachin Tendulkar and fellow West Indian Richie Richardson. Walsh also owns a restaurant in Jamaica called Cuddyz.