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Ian Bishop – a fast bowler whose career was destroyed by injuries

Ian Bishop

Ian Bishop… fastest West Indian to reach 100 wickets in Tests © Getty Images

Ian Bishop (born October 24, 1967) had the potential to be one of the great fast bowlers in Test history. However, injuries destroyed the career of this gentleman fast bowler from the Caribbean Islands. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks back at the career of Bishop who is celebrating his 45th birthday today.

In a region that has produced some of the most fearsome fast bowlers the game has ever seen, Ian Bishop’s name is lost somewhere in the annals of the island’s great cricketing history. That he is the fastest West Indian to reach hundred Test wickets could come as a surprise to many who would have expected someone like Wes Hall, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, Courtney Walsh or Curtly Ambrose to attain that milestone. Bishop had the potential to be in the pantheon of the greatest fast bowlers in cricketing history, but injuries haunted his career and eventually truncated it.

Born in Trinidad in Tobago on this day in 1967, Bishop had all the makings of a typical fast-bowler from the Caribbean. Standing at a towering six feet, five inches, he was an intimidating figure as he ran to deliver thunderbolts. It wasn’t pace alone; he could also had a sharp away going ball that made batsmen’s life miserable in the middle. Had he stayed away from injuries, the West Indies would have had an enviable three-pronged pack attack of comprising Ambrose Walsh and Bishop.

Bishop made his Test debut in 1989 against India at Georgetown, Guyana and went wicketless. But in the next Test of the series he rattled the Indians with a six-for in the first innings. In that series, he was bowling alongside the great Malcolm Marshall and, of course, Walsh and Ambrose. As time progressed, he was gradually establishing himself in the West Indian ranks. In fact, a look at his Test record would reveal that he was a prolific wicket-taker and it was only the injury-induced breaks that affected his charge.

Let us have a look at his career figures (the top:

M

Wkts

Avg

SR

4WI

5WI

10WM

Inngs best

Match best

Tests

43

161

24.27

52.2

6

6

0

6-40

8-57

ODIs

84

118

26.5

36.7

7

2

5-25

In a career that spanned nearly nine years, Bishop played only 43 Tests. He missed out on four years of Test cricket in that span due to injuries. From December 1990 to November 1992 and from April 1993 to June 1995, Bishop did not play any Test cricket. In fact, from his debut in 1989 to 1995 – a year where he made a comeback in England – he had played only 18 Tests. It was in those games that he had done his record good as he scalped five off his six fivers then. His last five-for came in his comeback match at Leeds in 1995.

While one may have been thrilled to watch him make this comeback, Bishop couldn’t maintain his streak in the remainder of his career. A positive sign was that he did go on to play 25 Tests after that comeback in 1995 – which is more than what he had managed prior to the said date. His career finally ended in 1998 at Bridgetown against England.

Bishop now travels around the world as a successful television commentator. When compared to the fiery customer on the field, he is calm and collected in the commentary box and has a soothing voice. One can also sense his passion for West Indies cricket – which was evident during the final of the ICC World T20 2012. He remains a respected figure and one can only imagine what might have been.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)

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