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Murali could reach 1000 wkts: Walsh

By Harish Kotian in Mumbai
November 10, 2006 21:20 IST
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Former West Indies fast bowler Courtney Walsh on Friday said Sri Lankan off-spinner Muthiah Muralitharan could achieve the 1000 mark in Test cricket if he retains his hunger for wickets.

"I am sure if Muralitharan is hungry enough, he can get to 1000 [wickets]," he said in Mumbai.

"Shane Warne will go past the 700 wickets mark, but I am not sure how long he will continue after that," Walsh added.

Walsh created history when he became the first bowler ever to take 500 wickets in Test cricket. He also held the record for the most wickets in Tests when he overtook Kapil Dev's record of 434 Test wickets before he was overtaken by Muralitharan, Warne, Glenn McGrath and Anil Kumble.

He, however, refuses to believe that fast bowling is on the decline even though Warne and Muralitharan are sitting on the top of the wicket-takers' list in Tests with a haul of 685 and 657 wickets respectively.

"I don't think that fast bowling is on the decline; this thing goes around in a cycle. I think with the quality and class of Muralitharan and Warne, they have overshadowed the fast bowlers. The consistency might be lacking in the fast bowlers, but I think that there are not much of them at the moment with a lot experience," said the 44-year-old.

Walsh said with a bit of experience the younger fast bowlers would become better bowlers.

"These two guys [Warne and Muraliatharan] are leading the pack. They have played for some time now and have got the experience. When someone like Jerome Taylor or Steve Harmison get that experience, they will know how to deal with it. The more experienced you are, the more confident you are with your job. I don't think fast bowling is on the decline. It's just a cycle and the two guys who are on the top [wicket takers] are on the top of their game," said the former West Indies captain.

He further added that the tracks around the world are a bit batting-friendly now, hence fast bowlers are not able to make a bigger impact.

"I think it's generally because of the nature of the wickets we are playing on. The young fast bowlers playing right now are bowling on surfaces more in favour of the batsmen," he said.

Walsh believes that West Indies captain Brian Lara needs to bat higher in the order.

"I think Brian is not backing himself or he is hoping that by batting lower down the order, he is giving the batting more solidarity. I think he has much more to offer and I would like to see him bat at a fixed position, maybe at number four, from where he can dictate the pace of the game. I don't know what were the circumstances or whether it was the team plan, but certainly it didn't work," he said.

Walsh has played a huge role in development of Jamaica fast bowler Jerome Taylor, who announced himself with a fantastic showing in the recently-concluded ICC Champions Trophy.

But he feels that Taylor could have made a bigger impact much earlier had he stayed fit.

"If he didn't get injured when he did, he would have made a bigger impact. But I think he is headed in that direction now and it is important that he doesn't get injured again.

"When I saw him as a youngster I knew he was probably one of the best potentials we have to go a long term. Injury has cut that short a little bit, but now I think he is on the right path. He is heading in the right direction and I can assure you that once he stays fit big things will happen and the whole of West Indies and Jamaica will be proud of him," Walsh added.

He also feels that Clive Lloyd has played a major role in the revival of the current West Indies team.

"I had figured it out a couple of years ago that the guys need someone around, whom they can turn to. And who best than the father figure Clive Lloyd, who has been there, knows everything about the game and knows how to sort out the problems?"

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Harish Kotian in Mumbai

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