By CricketCountry Staff
Mumbai: Sep 22, 2012
Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan feels, views of Sunil Gavaskar would have added more value to the newly released movie in India ‘Fire in Babylon’ — a film on West Indies cricket in the 1970s and 1980s.
“I think they could have taken Sunil Gavaskar's views because he faced them a lot. Now, here is one of the best opening batsmen — one of the best technicians ever. They should have got him. It would have been interesting to hear from him — because he watches much cricket now — how he would compare what he faced to what batsmen face now.”
The cricketer-turned-politician said the movie reveals one of the most significant parts of cricket history.
“From a cricketing point of view, it is probably one of the most significant parts of cricket history. The West Indies were one of the greatest teams to set foot on a cricket field.
“Never was there such quality and quantity of fast bowling on a cricket field from one team. To win overseas was not that easy as it is now. In fact, there were mismatches… look at the way they demolished their opponents. And it was not just fast bowling.
“They had some of the best batsmen I have seen in my time… Viv Richards — debatably, the greatest batsman ever. Gordon Greenidge was outstanding too. The West Indies had outstanding batting and fast bowling. They had no spinners, but they didn't need spinners.
“Even on spinning pitches they could bowl teams out twice. My only criticism of the film is that it could have had five or 10 minutes more of cricket. They could have just shown more quality cricket for the cricket connoisseurs. The actual cricket was not enough.”
The World Cup winning captain said Michael Holding was the most devastating among all the West Indies pacers of that era.
“On his day, no one could beat Michael Holding. He was out and out the most devastating fast bowler ever. When he was on song, I can say he was the best fast bowler ever seen. Number two… Malcolm Marshall. He was a complete fast bowler too.
“They had variety. Garner could attract steep bounce. Then there was his yorker. He perfected the yorker. Andy Roberts could run through a team, Sylvester Clarke too. And then came Curtly Ambrose… he was one of the best ever.
“For a while, Ian Bishop was as fast as anyone, although he didn't last long. There were fast bowlers who couldn't get into the team regularly like Clarke and Wayne Daniel. Clarke destroyed the South Africans single handedly on the rebel tour in the early 1980s and there were some great batsmen playing in that series like Graeme Pollock and so on.”
The 59-year-old said the current crop of pacers cannot be compared with the Caribbean quicks of 1970s and 1980s.
“There are some, but you cannot compare them to the quality which I remember like Dennis Lillee and Holding. You don't see many match-winning bowlers. Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan were match-winning bowlers, but they were spinners. There were Glenn McGrath, Ambrose, Wasim Akram, and Waqar Younis, who ran through teams.”
Imran feels it’s difficult to say how the current lot of batsman would have fared against the West Indies pacers.
“[It’s] Very hard to say! Some players rise to the occasion, some develop a technique (to combat pace) and some just fade away. I'll give you an example. We played World Series Cricket in 1977 and that was when you saw so many fast bowlers all playing in one place. Also, for the first time, players were starting to get hit often with so many fast bowlers around.
“There were a lot of injuries in World Series Cricket and because of that, helmets came in. Helmets came in because of the fast bowlers. Some great names just faded away in those two years. Lawrence Rowe made his debut with a 200 and 100 (vs NZ) and he scored a triple century in a Test match against England, but Rowe was finished in WSC against that quality fast bowling while you saw Viv Richards rise above everyone else.
“In that atmosphere, some players rose and some faded away, so I don't know how they (current lot) would have coped. It was not a question of technique then, it was a question of courage and the ability to adapt.
“You wouldn't be seeing the (batting) averages that you see now. Let me give you an example. Viv Richards was by far the best batsman I had seen in my life, but Zaheer Abbas was the best timer of the ball I had seen. Zaheer's confidence was shattered by the West Indian fast bowlers with the constant barrage of short-pitched bowling.
“I think Zaheer would have done even better than he did. I don't think anyone came close to Zaheer Abbas when it came to timing the ball except Sachin Tendulkar. It is very difficult to say how the current batsmen would have performed against relentless pace."
On his recent remarks on Sachin Tendulkar, Imran clarified, "I was putting myself in Sachin's place. He’s a great player. My biggest fear was being at the mercy of the selectors and that is why I retired early.