"Everyone told me I would never play again, but I was determined to prove them wrong"
Imagine if a batsman have to face more than one bouncer at the intimidating pace of 147 kmph or 150 kmph. In modern-day Cricket the rule says that a bowler can not be allowed to bowl more than one bouncer in an over. But cricket in the 70s or 80s didn’t have any such rule as a bowler could even bowl six balls as a bouncer to a batsman also. What if Andy Roberts would be that bowler a batsman has to confront? I am sure many of these modern-day greats will not even try to face Andy Roberts without the helmets or batting equipment even on his ordinary days. Andy Roberts was the first cricketer from Antigua to feature in Cricket for the West Indies team. Nicknamed “Hitman” the batsmen were in complete shambles or darkness when they confronted Andy Roberts. Roberts was the part of two world cup winning campaigns of West Indies Cricket Team (1975-1979). While in 1983 Andy Roberts was part of the West Indies cricket team who was the runner-ups.
The Antigua Cricketer played his first-class cricket for Hampshire Country and later in his cricketing career played for Leicestershire County Cricket Club also. The four fast bowlers of the great West Indies line-up (Roberts, Marshall, Holding and Garner) but Andy Roberts was completely different from others. The phenomenon called Andy Roberts who had triggered the collapse to open the floodgates to destroy the line-ups of the best teams of his era.
100 wickets in less than three years, the fastest of his times and undoubtedly the best phase of this Speedstar was in the mid 70s before the arrival of Kerry Packer Idea in Cricket. Although he was good too afterwards, there was the difference in terms of fear he had created earlier. When pace combined with timing it had brought the art of fast bowling with the term called Andy Roberts.
Roberts had used two bouncers to created the fear into the batsman minds while the first bouncer came at playable speed which batsman could easily hook or play but the second bouncer came at the intimidating pace pitching at the same area which often injured the batsman with the broken fingers, nose, elbows or the Jaws. (47 tests 202 wickets 25.61 average, 56 ODIs 87 wickets 20.36 average, 228 matches 889 wickets 21.01 average). These numbers are more than enough to back his case of one of the fastest bowlers who have ever played this game of cricket at the highest level from West Indies for almost one decade. While in the three world cups that he featured in got 26 wickets in 16 matches at an average of 21.23. The fastest delivery bowled by Andy Roberts in his career was 99.1 mph (159.9 kmph). The former West Indies great Viv Richards shared in his autobiography about the batsman who were in the shambles when they have confronted Andy Roberts.
The first time I saw it was when he hit David Hookes in a World Series cricket match and broke his jaw. The Australian Golden Boy was wired up for weeks and couldn’t eat anything solid for a while. I also saw him hit Peter Toohey in Trinidad and broke his nose, and then later he smashed his thumb in the same game; he broke Sadiq Mohammad’s jaw in a Test match in Georgetown and Majid Khan’s cheekbone in county cricket.
Here are thoughts of Andy Roberts on the genuine fast bowling –
“You can’t bowl 95 mp/h all the time and hope a batsman would surrender. They get used to it after a while. You need to vary the pace, the angle, the seam or swing. I could bowl everything: seam, swing, pace, slower one, bouncer, cutters, everything.”