A cricketer and a gentleman

Across The Board with the WICB
Stabroek News
May 13, 2001

IN this edition of Across The Board we salute Courtney Walsh after his retirement from international cricket on April 23 at the end of the fifth and final West Indies-South Africa Test match.

Courtney has campaigned for 17 years as one of the West Indies' and the world's best fast bowlers and it was truly fitting that this icon's team-mates accorded him an unforgettable farewell with a comprehensive victory over South Africa on Walsh's home turf, Sabina Park in Jamaica.

On the final day of the 38-year-old's marathon career, the sweetest memory was the sight of Walsh steaming in and catapulting his opposite number, Allan Donald's middle stump out of the ground as the West Indies closed in on a well-deserved win. It was the great West Indian's last Test wicket ? No. 519 ? and one that Walsh himself admits he will never forget.

What his legions of fans worldwide will never forget is his unselfish and spirited service to West Indies cricket and the vibrant, friendly personality who consistently showed that manners ? and not just boundless achievements ? really maketh man.

Now, some of the persons who have known and been associated with the world record-holder for Test wickets pay individual tributes to Courtney Andrew Walsh - indeed a colossus in stature and status.

Curtly Ambrose (former West Indies fast bowler) ? "I can't think of a better person than Courtney Walsh who deserves to achieve such great heights. I don't think there is a fast bowler in world cricket who has played longer or played more games than Courtney and to achieve 519 Test wickets is a huge accomplishment.

"A couple years ago, no-one was expected to achieve that goal ? 500 Test wickets - but Courtney's perseverance has proven it can be done and I think cricket pundits worldwide will agree with me that there's nobody more deserving.

"Playing alongside Courtney was special. They say we bowlers hunt in pairs and Courtney Walsh and myself developed a great relationship on and off the field. We knew how to complement and support each other on the field. Our chemistry was just magic. I have enjoyed some great times with him.

"Now he is retired, like myself, I am sure he will want to share his passion for the game with the youngsters. So after he has recharged his batteries ? because he needs a break - I hope he will come back and help develop our youth cricketers. He is a great example and if I was a youngster growing up I would want to be like him."

Carl Hooper (West Indies captain) "He has done a lot for West Indies cricket. He has been a great friend of mine for the 12 years I have played for the West Indies and I want to wish him well in his retirement, even though I am trying to coax him to go to Zimbabwe and maybe stretch a little longer to Sri Lanka.

"Courtney has been a great ambassador for West Indies cricket and certainly a role model for a lot of the young players coming up. In this my first stint as captain he has been a tremendous help. All the honours he has received are well deserved. Reaching 500-plus Test wickets is a monumental task and his record will probably last a long time. I have always admired his big heart and the way he is always ready to give 100 per cent in any situation."

Ricky Skerritt (West Indies manager) "I think one of the things that makes Courtney such a special cricketer is that his achievements are shared by cricket lovers everywhere. He is truly an ambassador for cricket and for the Caribbean. He has been able to reach out and touch so many people from all walks of life and, in the meantime, he has continued to be one of the fiercest competitors out in the middle.

"He has shown that it's possible to compete at the most energetic level and still have respect for others and for the game. To have been his manager for the last year has been one of the highlights of my life. I was able to witness the breaking of the world record and his passing 500 Test wickets. These are two achievements which the entire Caribbean can rejoice over for a very long time."

Roger Harper (West Indies coach and Walsh's former team-mate) "I think now that Courtney has retired Jamaica, the West Indies and cricket on the whole have lost a terrific servant. Courtney was an outstanding ambassador for the sport, respected and adored throughout the world and he is really deserving of all the adulation and rewards he has received.

"I hope we don't lose him completely. I know he will want to contribute to the game especially in the West Indies. He has left a legacy and a lot of the youngsters can look up to him and try to emulate what he has achieved, especially his commitment and determination. He is truly a champion."

Mike Findlay (Chairman of Selectors) "Courtney Walsh has gone beyond the call of duty in the service of West Indies cricket. He has shown the kind of commitment required by everyone involved in cricket around the world. His contribution has been most valuable and I hope the legacy he has left will be emulated by our young cricketers.

"Courtney is not just a great cricketer but also a gentleman. He is a warm individual and he has personality. I think it's his humility which has won him thousands of fans. Here is a man who has the world record in bowling yet anyone can approach Courtney. He is never too tired to speak to you. He is always smiling and he always has time for a little humour in his cricket. All those qualities endear him to every fan."