Cruickshank: Let's move away from fast bowling fascination
Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) operations manager Oneil Cruickshank says that despite the deep history and rich tradition the region has in fast bowling, there is need to start focusing on bowlers who have the ability to take wickets.
Cruickshank, who was speaking at a Gleaner Editors' Forum on cricket last Tuesday, said there is a regional fascination with fast bowlers but noted that the intention in cricket is to get wickets, and the best bowlers, whatever their skill sets, should be selected.
"If we have four good spinners and they are going to get the wickets, we use them. If we have four good fast bowlers, and they are going to get the wickets, we use them. Have the best bowlers who can get you results.
"It is good to have a balance, but if you have three off-spinners and you strongly believe they are going to get you wickets, then you play the off-spinners," he said.
"I know we have this fascination with fast bowlers because of our history. But India had four leg-spinners in the past, but today, they have three fast bowlers and one spinner," he reasoned
The former national cricketer believes that youngsters now have more options in sports, which means that other sports are attracting many who are physically suited for fast bowling. As a result, unearthing talented bowlers of all varieties is currently the JCA's focus.
"The big fast bowler back in the day didn't have basketball. Now, you have basketball and other sports competing for these big guys. They get scholarships and they want to be a part of the NBA, and all that. But one of our best fast bowlers was Malcolm Marshall, and he wasn't big and strong. So we need people with skills. Once they have that, you can take it from there.
"We have to ensure that our programmes give all types of bowlers a chance, and once we are satisfied they are good enough, then we select them. We will do skills training for fast bowlers and spinners of all variety. So we can have the best players available to represent the country, and for those who can, to go on to make the West Indies team," he said.
Cruickshank, who admitted that he is a big fan of pace bowling, says the JCA is looking to develop bowlers who are able to adapt and adjust to a variety of conditions of play.
"We can appreciate there are different types of pitch, and different pitches suit different bowlers. What you want is to make sure we have bowlers who can take advantage of those situations
"In the coming years, there is going to be a type of cricketer that is going to play for Jamaica, and that person will have to fit in a certain mould. If you are fast and not fit, and if you are fast and not smart, you are not going to play. It is going to be somebody that fits our philosophy going forward, and that's why the skills training is important, to ensure that from very early, they have the basic skills that are required for the sport," he said.