#NewsBytesExplainer: The rise of West Indies' contemporary pace quartet
West Indies cricket was once enriched with quite a few ferocious pacers. While the famous pace quartet (Joel Garner, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Sir Andy Roberts) established the bandwagon, the likes of Malcolm Marshall, Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose carried it. However, fast bowlers descended from WI in the following era. Let us decode how their modern day pacers have reinstated fast bowling.
While West Indies have produced a number of batting legends over the years, the team always relied on the bowling unit. Their sudden collapse was a no-brainer as several veteran fast bowlers retired. Since 2000, they have lost 102 out of 192 Test matches, winning only 41. However, the plight has improved to an extent with the advent of skipper Jason Holder.
The initial signs of improvement were witnessed in the 2017 England series. West Indies lost the series 1-2, however, the victory at Lord's laid the foundation of a new era. Over a year later, West Indies successfully avenged the loss after beating England 2-1. A new pace quartet was discovered in the form of Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and Jason Holder.
West Indies' incumbent lot of fast bowlers resonate the attributes displayed by their predecessors. Much like Michael Holding, Roach counts completely on his sheer pace. Meanwhile, Gabriel portrays a perfect blend of pace and seam movement. Youngster Alzarri Joseph extracts steep bounce from the deck while getting the ball in. Skipper Holder makes use of his tall structure, the way Joel Garner did.
The four-pronged pace attack has been on the rise of late. Since 2015, the likes of Gabriel (118), Holder (110) and Roach (80) have been West Indies' top-three wicket-takers (Tests). Joesph, who has 27 scalps to his name, is the latest entrant in the group. Their bowling average since 2019 read as (Holder - 16.14, Roach - 21.44, Gabriel - 29.27, Joseph - 28.00).
In six Test matches against England, fast bowlers Shannon Gabriel (24), Kemar Roach (22) and Jason Holder (21) have together accounted for 67 wickets. Their combined average in these matches is an incredible 25.74, while Holder (23.52) averages the best among them.
West Indies gained a precious 1-0 lead by handing the hosts a four-wicket defeat in the Ageas Bowl Test. Gabriel was named the Player of the Match for taking nine wickets with Holder also registering a six-for. Joseph too disarrayed the England batsmen towards the end. Although Roach remained wicketless, he will be eyeing the 200-wicket mark in the impending Test at Old Trafford.