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Pacers make teams great


Mike King

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Dale?Steyn?is leaving his mark as one of the finest fast bowlers the game of cricket has known and he has been quick to remind all and sundry that Allan Donald is one of the reasons he is taking bundles of wickets all over the world.
Quality fast bowling wins Test matches and the performances of Steyn and Morne Morkel provided evidence of that in Galle over the last week against a resurgent Sri Lanka side.
There was a time when there was a “conveyer belt” producing fast bowlers in the West Indies. What has happened to that belt? Just as Donald is training young men to bowl fast in South Africa, why has Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Courtney Walsh, Joel Garner, Curtley Ambrose and Ian Bishop, not been given or taken the opportunity to develop good quick bowlers in the Caribbean?
It is what is required to take the West Indies back to the top of world cricket. Listening to their incisive comments on television, it is clear that Holding and Bishop not only excelled at the game but understand the art of fast bowling.
Steyn is an amazing bowler. Donald fine tuned his extraordinary skills and results are evident. Of bowlers who have played 30 Tests or more, his strike rate of 41.7 is the best in history.
Fast bowling is the key to dominating world cricket. Australia did so in the 1970s by way of Denis Lillee and Jeff Thomson while one of the main planks of the West Indies’ 15-year reign between 1980-1995, was the performances of Holding, Roberts, Garner, Colin Croft and Malcolm Marshall.
It is no coincidence that the two leading sides in the game at the moment, South Africa and Austrlaia, are the ones with the best fast bowling attacks. Steyn has the support of Morkel and Vernon Philander while Australia have the lethal Mitchell Johnson backed up by Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle.
Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor are by far and away the two best fast bowlers in the Caribbean. They have more skill, more control and bowl a more consistent line than anyone else in the region. The 26-year-old Roach has 100 Test scalps, while Taylor, 30, has 93 wickets.
However, both are injury prone and are on the comeback trail. In other words, the future of both men is uncertain. Roach may still have a lot to offer but clearly one day coming soon the West Indies will have to identify some tall, strapping teenagers to step forward.
That is when the likes of Holding, Bishop, and other masters of the craft, will be mostly needed to do for the West Indies what Donald is doing for South Africa.
In the meantime, Steyn is walking tall and certainly has his place among the all-time greats. He provides pace, swing and hostility and what’s more, is grabbing wickets in all conditions, notably on the tough slow low pitches on the sub continent, where he has five five-wicket hauls and the best strike rate among overseas fast bowlers, a wicket every 39 balls.
On the sub continent Steyn also has more wickets (80) than any overseas fast bowler, ahead of  a pack that comprises Courtney Walsh (77), Glen McGrath (72), Malcolm Marshall (71), Sir Richard Hadlee (68), Shaun Pollock (60), Sir Wes Hall (54) and Jason Gillespie (54).

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