Walsh claims 500th Test victim

By Tony Cozier
Stabroek News
March 20, 2001

It was yet another occasion to celebrate the class, commitment and astonishing longevity of one of the game's most revered players.

The emotional scenes that greeted Courtney Walsh's unprecedented 500th Test wicket at twenty past two on the third day of the second Cable & Wireless Test yesterday mirrored those at Sabina Park almost exactly a year ago.

Then the remarkable Courtney surpassed India's Kapil Dev as Test cricket's highest wicket-taker in the second Test against Zimbabwe and in front of his joyful fellow Jamaicans at Kingston's Sabina Park.

The emotion and acclaim that followed his dismissal of Jacques Kallis as his 500th victim yesterday was no less passionate and heartfelt for Walsh's appeal knows no insular barriers.

He is a West Indian as much as he is a Jamaican and the governments of Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana have recently honoured him as such.

Perhaps, in all the tumult, there were those who recognised that not only had Walsh reached the peak of a cricketing Everest, his dispatch of Gary Kirsten and Kallis within three balls of each other in his seventh over of South Africa's second innings had seized the initiative for the West Indies for the first time in the match.

The foundation had been built over the first two hours and 20 minutes of another hot and sunny day by Ridley Jacobs, in his fashion as dedicated and reliable a warrior in the West Indies cause.

He and Merv Dillon, the fast bowler who has finally recognised value as a No.10 batsman with a solid basic defence, added a record 71 for the ninth wicket after which Jacobs made all 21 of the runs with Walsh for the last wicket.

The upshot was that the West Indies moved from 250 for seven overnight to 342 all out, a first innings lead of 56 as important psychologically as statistically.

When Walsh found the edge of the left-handed Kirsten's bat with the fourth ball of his seventh over and the ever dependable Jacobs pounced to his left to snare a sharp catch and Kallis followed two balls later, South Africa were 37 for two.

They were still 19 in arrears as Kallis, understandably brooding at another shocking decision by the uncertain Australian umpire Darryl Hair, headed back to the pavilion as Walsh was engulfed in a ruck of jubilant teammates.

Television replays clearly showed the ball diverted from Kallis' inside edge before hitting the pad.

He had been given out the same way by English umpire John Hampshire in the first Test at Bourda but he is only one of several batsmen and bowlers on both sides already in this series who have been deprived by poor umpiring.

It is a problem the ICC must tackle urgently. The mistakes have not yet led to the bad blood the umpiring caused in Sri Lanka's recent series against

England but the potential is there for trouble.

Heaven knows what would have happened on Sunday had Hair's wrong caught behind decision against Wavell Hinds had been against Brian Lara instead.

Whichever way Kallis went, it was immaterial to either Walsh, his teammates or those jumping, shouting and waving flags around the ground.

Yet the celebrations could have been a distraction for the West Indies. In spite of their favourable position, their cricket lacked purpose for the rest of the afternoon and they failed to press their advantage as Herschelle Gibbs and Daryll Cullinan carried the total to 130 before close.

They had their anxious moments.

Gibbs was 22 out of his 57 when his hard, low drive eluded Ramnaresh Sarwan's two hands at extra-cover. It was a catch that should have been taken at the highest level.

Cullinan, the first innings century-maker, was still not entirely comfortable against Dinanath Ramnarine's leg-spin.

He was finally out in the first innings topedging a sweep and he was 25 of his 41 when he advanced down the pitch and avoided another embarrassing dismissal by just getting the toe of the bat onto the ball.

But they return this morning ready to build South Africa's advantage to a level that can challenge the West Indies on the final day.

Their cricket earlier in the day was even more listless than the West Indies' in the final session.

They seemed certain to gain a useful lead when Dinanath Ramnarine was bowled sixth ball of the day by Shaun Pollock but Jacobs and Dillon then shared a record ninth wicket partnership of 71 that frustrated the South Africans for an hour and 55 minutes.

They were separated in the last over to lunch by Makaya Ntini, the last of the six bowlers summoned by captain Pollock. The fast bowler beat Dillon with a ball that kept low and hit the off-stump, ending his innings of 21.

The partnership was the highest for the wicket in the eight Tests between the teams, surpassing the 66 put on by South Africa's Pat Symcox and Alan Donald at Port Elizabeth in 1998, and revealed the new resolve in the West Indies lower order.

Jacobs has enough experience of Walsh's batting to realise that an extention of the lead was entirely his responsibility on resumption. He added four boundaries to those he hit before lunch, three from pulls off Ntini and a stinging straight-drive off Alan Donald that almost decapitated umpire Billy Doctrove.

He had reached 93 when he and Walsh got their wires crossed over a run that would have kept Jacobs on strike. It was the second time Jacobs had been left

short of his maiden Test hundred and each time Walsh was the last man out. He was 96 against Australia in Perth last December when Walsh was caught behind off Jason Gillespie for 1.

But he had done his job and more. Now he left the stage for Walsh. (Back to Top)

Walsh's long journey

by Tony Cozier

in Trinidad and Tobago

Clive Lloyd was West Indies captain, Forbes Burnham president of Guyana, Tom Adams Prime Minister of Barbados, Nelson Mandela still had more than six years in Robben Island when a gangling 21-year-old fast bowler from Jamaica made his Test debut for the West Indies.

The date was November 9, 1985. The venue was the WACA in Perth, the opposition was Australia and Courtney Walsh was just joining a West Indies team in the middle of a winning streak of 11 successive Tests.

More than 15 years and 129 Tests on, at an age when most bowlers whose stock in trade is pace have usually long side retired, Walsh claimed his 500th Test wicket at the Queen's Park Oval yesterday when he dismissed

South African Jacques Kallis on the third day of the second Test.

It was a landmark that was beyond comprehension when he bowled his first ball in Test cricket in Australia's second innings all those years ago. After all, Dennis Lillee, the great Australian fast bowler, was then Test cricket's leading wicket-taker with what seemed an insurmountable 355.

Darrell Hair's lbw decision to sent Kallis for a second ball duck was shown by television replays to be another error by the uncertain Australian umpire. But it mattered not to West Indians on and off the field.

An elated Walsh was immediately engulfed by his teammates on the field while the 5,000 Trinidadians scattered around the Queen's Park Oval celebrated as only they can.

Two balls earlier, in his seventh over of South Africa's second innings, Walsh got to within one of his landmark when wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs swooped low to his left to hold a tumbling catch that dismissed left-handed opener Gary Kirsten for 22.

On Kallis' dismissal, the electronic scoreboard flashed "Congratulations, Courtney, 500 wickets". As Walsh walked back to his fielding position on the boundary, fans rushed to the fence to acclaim his achievement and seek his autograph.

The West Indies players former a guard of honour as the teams left the field at tea. The first man to greet him at the steps to the pavilion in congratulations was a fellow fast bowler, Alan Donald, South Africa's leading wicket-taker with 318.

He trundled another nine overs to the close without success and left the ground, tired but proud, to more official acclaim in front of the Queen's Park Club's pavilion.

Jamaican Prime Minister P.J.Patterson was hooked up by telephone from Kingston to pass on his acclaim and Walsh was presented with a trophy to mark the feat.

Walsh has played more Tests than any West Indian since and sent down more overs than anyone in Test cricket.

Walsh also took his 400th Test wicket at the Queen's Park Oval two years ago when he dismissed Australian batsman Ian Healy.

His latest milestone came nearly a year after he surpassed Kapil Dev, the Indian all-rounder, as Test cricket's leading wicket-taker. He dismissed Zimbabwean last man Henry Olonga in the second Test at Sabina Park in his native Kingston, Jamaica, for his 435th wicket to elcipse Kapil's mark.

Kapil remains second with 434.

Walsh has declared that this will be his last series.

He intends to make it a Jamaica farewell after the fifth Test at Sabina Park April 19-23.

He said before this match that he was hoping to get his 500th wicket here "to get it out of the way".

Walsh considered retiring after the West Indies tour of England last summer but decided to continue when his long-time fast bowling partner, Curtly Ambrose, quit then.

"It wasn't very easy to continue playing but when Curtly left, I didn't think it was right to leave at the same time," he said. "It wouldn't have been a good

time to move away and leave a wide gap (in the team) so I made the decision to stay."

Walsh's career has included two periods as captain, for five Tests in 1995-95 and 10 Tests in 1996-97. He has received honours from the governments of his native Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana for his contributions to West Indies cricket.