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Monday, 3 April, 2000, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
Is Walsh the greatest bowler ever?

Courtney Walsh is on top of the world. The West Indian quick bowler has become cricket's leading wicket-taker, capturing his 435th Test victim on his home ground in Jamaica.

But with so many Tests being played around the world these days, how long will it be before his record is eclipsed?

Does Walsh's outstanding achievement in an era of high pressure and fierce competition make him the greatest ever? Or would some of the old-timers have been able to teach him a few tricks?


Your reaction

His longevity in the game, his endurance and consistency in club, international (1 day and test matches) make him one of the all time greats. He has taken all those wickets despite being in a side which contained some other great bowlers, Marshall, Holding, Ambrose etc.
Neil Palethorpe, England

Walsh is a great bowler, but just because he took the most wickets (which is largely due to playing for longer than most) does not make him the best. Three of his own team mates, in their prime, were better - Holding, Marshall and Ambrose. And that's not mentioning Hadlee, Lillee and Warne.
David R. Wood, Australia

Courtney's success in terms of test wickets admittedly has to do with the failure of the Windies fast-bowling conveyor belt, but it has to be remembered that his own debut was delayed by the wealth of fast bowling talent in his youth. I would like to congratulate him on always giving 100% for Gloucester, a virtue not always evident in overseas players, although we have been luckier than most.
John Rogers, England



Sir Richard Hadlee has the best strike rate and close to the lowest average, along with having taken his wickets in far fewer tests.

Neil Smith, NZ/Japan
Sir Richard Hadlee has the best strike rate and close to the lowest average, along with having taken his wickets in far fewer tests. The argument over his being the only genuine strike bowler in NZ and therefore more likely to take the majority of wickets ignores the reverse of this argument: batsmen could afford to defend against King Dick, knowing that they could score more easily off the other bowler, whoever he was. Despite this, Hadlee continued to dominate to the very end, taking 5 in an innings in his last test innings.
Neil Smith, NZ/Japan

Do not forget Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Malcolm Marshall, who were virtually unplayable on their best days.
Irshad Rahaman, USA

Walsh is a very good bowler and indeed one of the greatest sportsmen ever to have played the sports. I still remember the last league match between WI and Pakistan where in the last over of the match he had the clear chance to get the overlapping batsman Jaffer run out. But he did not do that, merely for the sake of good cricket. Indeed that is the highest peak of moral greatness. Congratulation to Walsh for a very deserved world record. Records are made to be broken. Someday Akram or Warne may break this record. Let's see who does that first?
Jahid Chowdhury, Bangladesh



For these and many more reasons he must be head and shoulders above all, present and past

Les P. Herbert, England
Walsh has achieved his success, when the all round skill is higher than at any time in the game. His fitness and determination put him above any other bowler of the past. The rules favour the batsmen more than the bowler. For these and many more reasons he must be head and shoulders above all, present and past. Congratulations Courtney.
Les P. Herbert, England

As an ardent Gloucester fan and admirer of the big fella, I can say one thing...that he and Malcolm Marshall rate as the greatest overseas players for their counties and their 1st class wicket tolls need to be considered. A few great bowlers mentioned have '"cruised" at this point in time to even pose the question of whether he is the greatest demeans his achievement.. Well done Courts!
Kevin Wynn, Singapore

Mathematics says Walsh is the greatest. People will argue that Kapil, Imran, Akram bowled on lifeless pitches. But, one thing is sure, Walsh will be remembered as the greatest gentleman fast bowler ever. Remember his refusal to run out Salim Jaffer when he was backing out too far in 1987 Reliance World Cup? That may have cost West Indies the match, berth in the semi-finals (probably the cup?) It's very difficult to do it in today's professional sports. Walsh did it and congrats to him on his record.
Abhijit Jere, USA/India

With Richard Hadlee's strike rate, I do not believe that there is anyone greater. However, congrats to the man with a huge heart...Courtney Walsh.
Grant Silliss, Australia



Walsh's achievement is surely commendable but that by no means makes him the greatest bowler in history.

Amyn Pesnani, USA
Walsh's achievement is surely commendable but that by no means makes him the greatest bowler in history. I would reserve that award for Wasim Akram for not only has he gained most of his 383 wickets by bowling on lifeless wickets but also because he's excelled in one-dayers also. Wasim is the only bowler to have taken more than 300 wickets in both versions of the game and will probably become the only bowler to have taken 400 wickets in both versions of the game. This in itself is a remarkable feat and having taken more than 400 wickets at 23 runs a piece is a testimony to his greatness. Warne has an average of around 26 and Walsh around 28. Indeed Wasim is the best.
Amyn Pesnani, USA

The term "greatest" depends on who has the best arsenal - not of wicked balls - but of public relations minders, agents and mythmakers. Malcolm Marshall was the greatest not merely by the number of the wickets he took but his incredible brilliance in uprooting the stumps of the game's greatest batsmen...and his influence on the best of today's young bowlers from SA to WI. But then he, like Walsh, didn't have the full weight of the Anglo-Aussie-Kiwi media industry behind him. Pity.
Julius Gittens, Barbados



Courtney and Ambrose were the torchbearers of WI team and I salute them.

Darren Letford, England
Courtney Walsh is one of the all time great bowlers. I remember watching him many times during his spell in county cricket. He had the full armoury of deliveries and he was always able to get a few important runs. If you look at West Indian cricket over the last ten years, it has been the bowlers who have been the mainstay of the team. Courtney and Ambrose were the torchbearers of WI team and I salute them. I look forward to seeing them in the summer.
Darren Letford, England

It is hard to judge players simply by figures alone. With the ongoing debate of who is the best ever all rounder Botham's name appears in the statistics yet Sobers is the man most regard to hold this accolade. Walsh has shown himself to be a marvellous bowler, competitor and athlete over the years and he deserves all the adulation he receives. I hope Walsh goes on to extend his record but it is impossible to say if his feat or that of the next man to break the record makes him the greatest of all simply because of the ever changing, multidiscipline sport of cricket.
Stuart Kirk, England

Hadlee may have played considerably fewer tests than Walsh, but then he was consistently NZ's sole strike bowler - Walsh has had to compete with some of the greatest bowlers in history over the course of his career. For a fast bowler to maintain peak fitness for over 100 tests and until his 38th year - that is truly remarkable
Andrew Miller, UK

It is without doubt that Courtney's achievement the other day was yet another milestone in a magnificent career. It was also great for the game of cricket as a whole. However, if we were to compare him to other fast bowlers of the same and earlier era - there is only one who has truly mastered the art of fast bowling - one Richard John Hadlee. The statistics are merely proof of what he was capable of.
Harry, NZ/UK

Good bowler but not as good as Wasim Karam.
Faisal Rafique, UK



Well done Courtney, you're a credit to yourself and West Indies cricket.

Austin Edwards, Wales
I don't think you can accurately compare bowlers from different eras, but there's no question Walsh could stand shoulder to shoulder with any of them. Well done Courtney, you're a credit to yourself and West Indies cricket.
Austin Edwards, Wales

I am an Australian, and it therefore is very hard for me to admit but far and away the best ever test bowler was Sir Richard Hadlee.
Clayton Howard, UK/Aus

Richard Hadlee of New Zealand is surely the greatest test bowler to date with 431 wickets from only 86 matches, as opposed to Walsh's 435 from 114 matches and Kapil Devs' 434 from 131. Even Shane Warne, the greatest current spin bowler, has only taken 363 wickets from his 83 matches, still a long way behind Hadlee. Perhaps Walsh's greatest feat is that he has managed to stick at it for so long, let's hope he can continue to entertain us (and stretch his record) for some seasons to come.
Matt Hunt, NZ/UK

No doubt Walsh is good, but you cannot compare him to Imran Khan, Wasim Akram or Kapil Dev.
Bob Smith, UK

There's far more to assessing the skill of a bowler than the number of wickets taken. As many others have pointed out, it is impossible to compare him to the great spinners or those fast bowlers who played on lifeless tracks. He is nevertheless clearly an exceptional bowler who has stood the test of time better than most.
Richard Parris, Singapore



Courtney Walsh's record will stand until Shane Warne overtakes it in a couple of years time.

Graeme Tunks, Australia
Courtney Walsh's record will stand until Shane Warne overtakes it in a couple of years time. Being a legspinner he could reasonably be expected to play until 40 yrs old or beyond. That gives him another 10 years of playing. Enough time to crack 650 or 700 wickets. However this will never be able to be compared with fast bowlers, who reach the end by about 33-35 yrs old. Without serious injury or a lack of will to play Warne will become the greatest wicket-taker of all time.
Graeme Tunks, Australia

There's no doubt that Courtney is a great bowler, but he is nowhere near the greatest of all time. Colin Croft rated him only around sixth amongst the great West Indian fast bowlers. Sure he has the record for the most test wickets, but even that isn't likely to stand for very long. With Warnie in the 360's maybe halfway through his career 500 wickets isn't impossible.
Mike Rochford, UK

Courtney is a good bowler with lots of stamina, energy and vigour. His record is testament to this. But the fact is that he is not even the best bowler in the West Indian Team - in that respect Curtley is the more fearsome bowler. The greatest bowler is too difficult to judge. It will be interesting to see who gets close to beating his record in the next few years.
Mike, UK

Walsh is a great bowler and his total of 435 wickets is a fantastic achievement. You also have to remember that he has taken all these wickets whilst playing in West Indies sides that have contained some of the game's great fast bowlers.
Richard Purdy, England

Records are meant to be broken. But someone has to set them first. The figures behind Walsh do state that he is the best at the moment. Let's just acknowledge the fact and if and when someone does break his record due respect will be given to him. Until then... Walsh rules!
Rohan Suri, Singapore/India

Walsh has always been under-rated throughout his career, yet he has been one of the very best. The greatest of them all though was another (relatively) unsung hero - Malcolm Marshall.
Ray Byrne, UK

Walsh is definitely the greatest fast blowers of all time. I'll take in consideration the stamina and heart of Courtney, he play before of the love of the game and the love of the Caribbean. Walsh played cricket without a break - he just missed two matches because of injury.
Samantha Grant, Guyana, South America

Walsh is one of the greatest bowlers the cricket world has ever witnessed. But he is certainly not the greatest. His record will be broken by Wasim Akram of Pakistan.
Bobo, USA

Walsh is definitely a one of the great bowlers. Even though the West Indies have struggled in the past few years his being in the team brings a element of "respect" for the team.
S Rajan, USA

Walsh is great, but greatest - nowhere close to that! Figures don't tell the real story, but if we were to go by statistics the term 'greatest' would have to be reserved for a Hadlee or Lilee, or Akram or Younis or even Donald or Warne. Remember, you could say that Walsh achieved this task in fewer tests than Kapil Dev, but he didn't bowl all those overs on dead, flat sub-continent wickets.
Raj Stephen, Dallas, USA

It's silly to rate them since each played in different era and conditions. The latter is an important factor as players like Kapil, Imran, Wasim etc played half of their games on the so-called dead lifeless pitches which mostly aided spinners. Anyway Walsh's feat should be an inspiration to the bowlers around the world.
Pankaj Kokate, India

When you see Walsh running down on the run-up, you feel somewhat great about him. Walsh's achievement will definitely boost the spirit of rookie's in West Indies cricket.
Viren, USA/India

Remarkable achievement. He may not be best fast bowler ever, but is one of the finest gentleman ever to play this game.
Kingsley, USA/Jamaica

Walsh's achievement is a tribute to his dedication, natural skills and stamina. Although he is by no means the greatest bowler ever, his name and achievements will go down forever whenever the history of Test is written. The West Indies owe him more than they can ever repay - he has been a great ambassador for his country - More grease to his shoulders.
Tunji Olajide, UK

Let's face it, records were meant to be broken.

Colleen Holder, Trinidad and Tobago
If we are going by figures alone, then you could say that Walsh is the greatest ever. It took long enough for Kapil Dev's record 434 to be broken.
But in terms of overall performance, there's always room for improvement. Kapil Dev was the best until Walsh came along, and Walsh will probably rule the roost for sometime before its broken too. Let's face it, records were meant to be broken....but all the same, congrats to Courtney Walsh on this brilliant achievement.
Colleen Holder, Trinidad and Tobago

There can be no single contender for the best bowler ever, because conditions and rules have changed so much over the last 100 years. Larwood for example might have been quicker than Walsh, but played on uncovered wickets. And how could we compare the great quickies with the best spinners the world has ever seen - try Truman vs. Laker, Lillee vs. Warne for example.
What we can say is that certain bowlers were without doubt "truly great" - and Courtney is one of them. Aside from the fact that he is still genuinely fast (whereas Kapil Dev was no more than military medium when he retired), he has maintained that pace throughout his career, and achieved his feat in 17 fewer tests than Kapil.
Every English batsman will be anxiously awaiting Walsh this summer, and no less than they would McGrath or Pollock. Perhaps we take Courtney for example more easily because he has been on the county circuit for so long.
TIB, UK

No he's just the current record holder for test wickets. However, he is a fine bowler, a credit to his country and to the game.
GS, England

I think you should give Walsh his props. No disrespect to the old guys, but if they could have done it they would have. Nuff Respect Walsh
Winston Griffiths, USA/Jamaica

Walsh to his credit has perhaps the greatest heart in terms of trying and producing over the long run. He has the heart of a lion and perhaps a never-say-die attitude, however to rate him as the greatest bowler would not be true. I feel he has the necessities to be termed as a great but not as the greatest.
Rienzie, Malaysia

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