“Heath Streak took the pace bowling attack of Bangladesh to a new level and under Walsh, one can hope, it will reach new heights”
The departure of Heath Streak this year created a vacuum. Over the years, Heath Streak was instrumental in galvanizing the Bangladeshi pace attack. Under the supervision of Streak, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel, and Al-Amin Hossain transformed into productive fast bowlers and sent jitters in the batting line-up of the opposing teams. So his absence was felt and to replace someone like Streak was not an easy task for Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB).
Over the past few months, the names of Allan Donald, Shane Bond, Venkatesh Prasad, Aaqib Javed, and Chaminda Vaas were heard a lot, but all those rumors and debate have come to an end as Courtney Walsh has signed on as the new bowling coach of the Tigers until the ICC World Cup 2019.
This will be his first major role as the coach in international cricket. Since his retirement from cricket, Walsh has not been away from cricket, but has been involved with various acts: He served as a West Indies selector, mentor with Jamaica Tallawahs in the CPL, and as manager of the West Indies Under-19 team. Most recently, Walsh served as part of the West Indies selection panel.
But still, some of the local critics are not convinced about appointing a coach who’s not familiar with coaching an international team. Though, I feel, it’s quite funny to question the ability of someone who has bagged 519 Test wickets and widely regarded as one of the best pace bowlers of all time. Walsh spent 17 years in international cricket with great distinction and has achieved greatness through sheer grit.
Walsh’s new role as a bowling coach should not be a challenging one, because, he is well equipped to face the tough assignment. Nazmul Hassan has made the right choice and frankly speaking, the Bangladeshi pacers can benefit immensely by working with Walsh.
First of all, the Bangladeshi pacers can improve their ability to bowl on dead and dusty tracks, especially during Test matches. Walsh’s record in the subcontinent was brilliant. While bowling on dead tracks he could make the ball bounce, move it on and off the pitch and cut the ball in and out.
While playing Test matches, Bangladesh rely more on the spinners rather than on the pacers because they lack the variety and guile to test the batsmen. The presence of someone like Walsh would be helpful in learning the art of bowling on typical subcontinent tracks.
Secondly, Walsh’s knowledge about fitness and how to bowl long spells in unhelpful conditions should prove handy for the Tigers. Throughout his career, Walsh was a fitness freak. Even when he was half-fit, he was still highly productive and could bowl tirelessly. His strong willpower to carry on the responsibility despite the trying circumstances will inspire the young pacers of Bangladesh and his knowledge about fitness should prove as a blessing for them.
Thirdly, Walsh can be helpful in developing the yorker. The Bangladeshi pacers are not experts in delivering the yorker. Perhaps, the development of this art was in the embryonic stage during the reign of Streak and it is expected Walsh would nurture this art among the Bangladeshi pacers. Especially, his knowledge about the slower yorker can add a new dimension in the bowling of Mustafiz and Co.
Fourthly, the Bangladeshi pacers are not seen to bowl with a cross-seam more often. When the conditions don’t support the pace bowlers, bowling with a cross-seam can be extremely helpful and Walsh knows this art very well. Especially, someone like Mustafizur Rahman, who loves to bowl the cutters, can benefit from him.
Lastly, Walsh is blessed with the ability to mentor young guns. While being a manager of the West Indies Under-19 team this year, he was always there to lend a helping hand to the young fast bowlers of the West Indies and his man-management capabilities are equally brilliant as his fast bowling skills. He is sort of a guy who is not dependent on egos but loves to mingle with the people surrounding him in a friendly manner. He will not only be a bowling coach of Bangladesh but a great friend too.
According to Clive Lloyd, “I don’t think you’ll find another Courtney Walsh around and if I was a young fast bowler, I’d want to emulate him”. While Sir Garfield Sobers stated, “Young crop of fast bowlers can take from him his dedication to West Indies and his ability to be always there, trying and giving 100 percent in difficult conditions.”
As a bowling coach, Courtney Walsh has been a smart choice. He had been a hard worker and disciplined person and experienced the ups and downs during his life as a cricketer. He learned the art of fast bowling through hard ways and such people are always helpful as a coach.
Heath Streak took the pace bowling attack of Bangladesh to a new level and under Walsh, one can hope, it will reach new heights.