Pedro Collins: The West Indian left-armer with 100 Test wickets and a unique feat

Pedro Collins © Getty Images

Born on August 12, 1976, Pedro Tyrone Collins was one of the few left-arm medium pacers to have represented West Indies. He began playing at the international level when the deadly duo of Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose were at the end of their career and managed to pick 106 Test wickets. Prakash Govindasreenivasan has more.

Pedro Collins vs Hannan Sarkar

Collins became the first bowler in the history of Test cricket to earn a wicket in the first ball of a Test match on three occasions. The most number of such dismissals was previously held by Richard Hadlee of New Zealand (in 1973 and 1989) and Geoff Arnold of England (in 1974). Collins achieved this in 2002 and 2004 and also happens to have dismissed the same batsman, Bangladesh opener Hannan Sarkar, on all three occasions.

Collins made his international debut in 1999, a year after he impressed the West Indies selectors with a splendid spell for West Indies A against India. Just when he began to settle down in the West Indian setup, learning from the experienced likes of Walsh and Ambrose, a nasty injury came along.

Not too adept with his batting skills, Collins failed to put bat to ball on a delivery from Jason Gillespie which struck him in the groin and led to a nasty testicular injury. It led to a year-long layoff, but he came back as a stronger, fitter and most importantly, faster.

Collins brought wicket-to-wicket medium-pace bowling with the knack for late movement into the right-handers. He played at a time when the likes of Walsh, Ambrose and Ian Bishop called time on their career and for the first time, the West Indies pace battery seemed drained and discharged. It was a time when a number of pacers were tried out in the hope of finding the successors of Walsh and Ambrose. It was a period of transition as far as the West Indies fast bowling was concerned.

One of Collins’s first notable performances came in 2002 against New Zealand at Bridgetown. If not for the poor batting performance, West Indies could have pushed New Zealand to the brink, thanks to Collins’s six-wicket haul in the second innings.

He claimed two more fifers in his Test career, both against Bangladesh. The first came in Dhaka in 2002, when he started the proceedings with the wicket of Sarkar off the first ball of the Test for the first time.

Pedro Collins: The West Indian left-armer with 100 Test wickets and a unique feat

Pedro Collins’s nine for 117 against Bangladesh in the second Test match in 2004 at home, went on to be his best match figures © Getty Images

Home series against Bangladesh in 2004

Collins enjoyed playing against the minnows. In the two-match Test series at home in 2004, he finished as the highest wicket-taker with 14 wickets. Through a good first innings total, Bangladesh managed to eke out a draw in the first match where Collins got the better of Sarkar off the first ball of the innings once again. In the second Test, the underdogs were blown away. After picking up three wickets in the first innings, Collins went on to achieve his career-best figures of six for 53 in the second essay as West Indies registered a win by an innings and 99 runs in Jamaica. His match figures of nine for 117 went on to be his best as well.

Collins also enjoyed playing against England. In the home series against them in 2004, Collins had 11 wickets to his name in three Tests he played. He missed the first game but returned for the rest wherein he managed 11 wickets. England won the first three Tests to take the series but Collins was a standout performer with two four-wicket hauls.

After May 2005, Collins was out of international action for close to a year due to stress fractures to his back. An injury to his half-brother Fidel Edwards provided him with the opportunity to return to the Test side in home series against India in 2006. It was during this series when Yuvraj Singh became his 100th Test victim. Collins bowled a beautiful delivery that was shaping into the left-hander. It beat his defense and went on to crash the stumps to take Collins to the three-figure mark.

In coloured clothing, Collins was not as effective as he was in Tests. He picked up just 39 wickets from 30 matches at a poor average of 31.07. His only good performance in the shorter format of the game came against Australia in Adelaide in 2005. Australia’s decision to bat first after winning the toss was put in place after Collins ran through the top-order. He dismissed opener Mathew Hayden and skipper Ricky Ponting in the same over to create panic in the home side’s dressing room. A few overs later, he sent Michael Clarke packing to put the home side in a tough situation. Simon Katich led the rescue work but he too was halted abruptly when Collins trapped him leg before towards the end of the innings. Unfortunately for Collins, his best efforts couldn’t turn the game in his side’s favour as a batting collapse led to a 73-run loss.

The biggest claim to fame for Collins has been his unique achievement of dismissing three stalwarts — Steve Waugh, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar — on three occasions in Tests.

After missing the 2007 World Cup at home, Collins found himself on the squad sheet for the T20 World Cup in South Africa the same year. A month after the tournament, he signed for Surrey as a Kolpak player, virtually bringing an end to his international career as he chose to fulfill his county duties despite being picked for the tour of Sri Lanka. In 2010, he quit Surrey and signed for Middlesex.

Collins’s short international career saw him bag more than 100 Test wickets and help West Indies during a period when their bowling attack, supposedly their biggest strength through decades, was not in the pink of its health. In 32 Tests, Collins picked up 106 wickets at an average of 34.63 while in ODIs, he has 39 wickets in 30 outings at an average of 31.07.

(Prakash Govindasreenivasan is a reporter with CricketCountry. His Twitter handle is @PrakashG_89)