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‘We are looking forward to an exciting and successful World Cup’
Willow Talk: Andy Roberts

Brian Lara

Did you ever expect the West Indies to host the World Cup?

Andy Roberts: No way! Not even after we became World Champions for the second time in 1979! We were the best side in the world at that time, but we never ever thought about playing host to the tournament.

You are in charge of the wickets on which the 2007 World Cup matches will be played. What can we expect?

Andy Roberts: I have tried to bring back the bounce. In one-day internationals, you need strips that will help both the batsmen and the bowlers. I can assure you that the wickets will be conducive to quality cricket. The viewing public will be satisfied.

Do you believe that fast-bowling standards have slipped worldwide?

Andy Roberts: Absolutely. I think the medium-pacers are ruling world cricket. There aren't too many genuine pacemen around. Fast bowling is an art. You have to learn it, work on it, perfect it.

Are you available to coach an international side?Read moreread more

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Andy Roberts: Oh yes. I can become the Bowling Coach of any side if asked to. That apart, any fast bowler is welcome to talk to me if he has the inclination.

You had a chat with Irfan Pathan, the Indian pacer, when the Indian team toured the Caribbean last year. He is struggling at the moment…

Andy Roberts: I cannot comment on that as I haven't seen him bowl in the recent past. I will be able to detect what he is doing wrong only after watching him bowl. But I was surprised to hear about his bad patch. He is a fine bowler in my opinion.

All of India would like to know what went wrong in the 1983 final.

Andy Roberts: I cannot forget it. I do not know what happened. Our bowlers did a fantastic job, restricting the Indians to 183. We should have cruised to victory with only 184 to get in sixty overs. But probably it wasn't our day.

You had splendid figures of 3-32 from your allotted overs…

Andy Roberts: Yes. I think I dismissed Sunny (Gavaskar), Kirti (Azad) and (Roger) Binny. But at the end of the day, we lost, and that is what matters the most.

Cricket-lovers remember your unbeaten 24 and the match-winning stand with Deryck Murray against Pakistan in the 1975 World Cup. What do you recall about that game?

Andy Roberts: We lost our ninth wicket when we were 64 short, if I remember correctly. We had to score 267 in all. But we had some 14 overs in hand, and so knew that we had a chance, if we batted sensibly. Murray was convinced that he could pull it off if I supported him adequately. We started playing percentage cricket, milking singles. The Pakistanis probably thought that they had already won, but the battle was far from over. I think we displayed extraordinary courage to pull our side out of a losing position! I did my best to help Murray take us through. It was an unforgettable game.

What are your expectations from this World Cup?

Andy Roberts: It will be a wonderful advertisement for West Indian cricket. The infrastructure created for the competition will outlive it, and that is fantastic as far as the future is concerned. The influx of tourists should boost the islands' economy. We are looking forward to an exciting and successful World Cup.

(An exclusive feature for Sify from PMG)

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