Courtney Walsh

Template:Infobox Cricketer Courtney Andrew Walsh (born October 30, 1962, 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. He is best known for holding the record of most Test wickets from 2000, when he broke the record of Kapil Dev, to 2004, when his record was broken by Muttiah Muralitharan and later Shane Warne.

Walsh's first claim to fame came in 1979 when he took 10 wickets in an innings in school cricket, which was a record at that level. Three years later, he made his first class debut.

Walsh 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 Brisbane.

In 1987, Walsh was named as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year. In 1989, he took 10 wickets in a Test match for the first time. In 1994, he was appointed captain of the West Indies test team 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. He came close to (but did not beat) the record for a West Indian bowler of 35 wickets in a Test series (set by Malcolm Marshall in 1988). In the 1990s his partnership with Curtly 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, Garner and later Ambrose, but after the retirement of Marshall and Garner 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 even over very long spells and used his height to extract occasionally vicious bounce. Even as he lost pace in the latter stage of his career he continued to take wickets at an undiminished rate; teams tended to defend against he and Ambrose and attack the weak third and fourth bowlers.

Walsh played his last One-day International against New Zealand in 2000 and his last Test match against South Africa in his homeland, Jamaica, in 2001.

As of May 2004, Walsh is one of only 3 bowlers to have bowled over 5000 overs in Test cricket, the other two being spinners: Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka and Shane Warne of Australia. These three are also the only bowlers to have taken 500 or more Test wickets. Among the three, Walsh is the only one who has not taken 8 or more wickets in an innings. Walsh took 519 Test wickets, which was the world record until passed by Muttiah Muralitharan in Zimbabwe in 2004. In One-day Internationals, Walsh was not as successful although he will be remembered for his best performance, 5 wickets for just 1 run. In first-class cricket, he took 5 wickets in an innings more than 100 times and 10 wickets in a match 20 times. As of May 2004, he and Wasim Akram are the only 2 cricketers to have played over 100 Test matches and taken fewer than 50 catches.

Walsh's feats with the bat are rather less flattering, as indicated by an average of seven in both test cricket and one-day internationals. He also holds the record for the most Test ducks (43). His highest score, co-incidentally, 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 Courtney is a much loved and respected cricketer and the West Indies have arguably yet to find a fast bowler with anything approaching his talents.

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