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Andy Roberts: West Indies cricketer and fast bowling pioneer

Updated on July 5, 2011
Andy Roberts mastered the "slow bouncer."
Andy Roberts mastered the "slow bouncer."

Full name: Anderson Montgomery Everton Roberts

Born: January 29, 1951 at Urlings Village, Antigua

Major teams: West Indies, Combined Islands, Leeward Islands, Hampshire. Leicestershire, New South Wales

Playing role: Fast bowler, lower-order batsman

Other: Coach, selector

Many cricket commentators and spin bowlers joke that fast bowling more brawn than brain – more brute force than finesse. However, a certain West Indian pace bowler contradicted that stereotype. Antiguan Anderson (Andy) Roberts epitomized the 'thinking' fast bowler; those who saw him in action considered him a strategist and tactician on the field of play.

Roberts began his First-class career as a teenager (aged 19), for the Combined Islands team in the Caribbean's 1969/70 domestic season. In 1974, he graduated to international cricket, making his Test debut against England at Bridgetown, Barbados.

Andy Roberts was the pioneer of the West Indies' fearsome foursome, making his debut two years before West Indies captain Clive Lloyd decided to use a pace-quartet. He was an instant success in that role as spearhead of the regional side’s pace attack, and was the fastest to 100 Test wickets. His bowling records show that he was an effective bowler.

However, his batting was decent, as he scored three Test 50s. In addition, his batting helped the West Indies win a critical World Cup match against Pakistan. While Roberts never lay claim to being an all-rounder, he was not a rabbit with the bat either. All of his batting averages were above 10 and he also scored 10 First-class 50s.

Andy Robert's bowling records

Match-type 
Matches
Wickets
Average
Strike rate 
Economy 
Tests 
47
202
25.61
55.1 
2.78 
ODIs 
56
87
20.35
35.8 
3.40 
First-class 
228
889
21.01
48.0 
2.62 
List A
195
274
18.58
35.9
3.10
Source: Cricinfo
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Roberts was also credited for creating and using several variations that helped him to out-fox batsmen. He even mastered a deceptive slower delivery that was difficult to detect because he bowled it without altering the pace of his arm. Roberts’ bouncer was as lethal as it was effective, and he even mastered the slow bouncer.

Even though he lost speed as his career progressed, his mind kept him in the game. Despite intense competition for fast bowling spots in the West Indies at the time, he managed to play international until age 32. One year later, he ended his First-class career.

Roberts remained involved in Caribbean cricket as a coach, West Indies manager and West Indies selector. He is also a straightforward and outspoken commentator on issues regarding cricket in the region. Roberts participated in many fast bowling camps around the region in the hope of reviving the West Indies pace tradition. There are glimpses of hope, but the Caribbean side could use another Andy Roberts soon.

Andy Roberts against England

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