PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, April 1, 2008 (AFP) – Stories of the ill-treatment of spin bowlers at the hands of the West Indies selectors over the years are notorious. Since Lance Gibbs ended his distinguished career on February 5, 1976, West Indies cricket history is littered with several bowlers plying the slow stuff that have been tossed aside in preference for bowlers living in the “fast lane”.
Truth be told, though, West Indies – who face Sri Lanka here in the second Test on Thursday – have only produced three World-class spin bowlers in the eight decades since their entry into Test cricket – and this number may be stretched to four when Garfield Sobers is included on the list.
Gibbs has been the most successful with a former world record 309 wickets at 29.09 apiece in 79 Tests, fellow off-spinner Sonny Ramadhin snared 158 at an average of 28.98 in 43 Tests, and left-arm spinner Alf Valentine snared 139 at 30.32 each in 36 Tests.
Sobers took 235 wickets at an average of 34.03 in 93 Tests – bowling principally either left-arm orthodox or chinaman – but some of his scalps were taken when he transformed himself into a left-arm fast-medium bowler.