Andy Roberts - why did he disappear so fast?
Anderson Montgomery Everton Roberts
- The name is a mouthful, and from whatever I've read about the man's bowling, his bowling was a handful as well. He was the senior-most member of the 1970s-1980s pace battering ram, which Clive Lloyd relied on to blow opponents away.
Yesterday, he was being interviewed on TEN Sports by Dean Jones. If I remember right, Roberts was Antigua's first ever international cricket player. I remember reading in Viv Richards' auto-biography that he was really inspired by Roberts, a fellow islander, entering the international arena.
Less than a week after he was quoted as expressing doubts over Brett Lee's and Shoaib Akhtar's actions
, he mentioned that Brett Lee was the quick bowler he most liked to watch nowadays. He did however say that Shoaib's action worried him and that Shane Bond's regular absence
disappointed him since he felt Bond was the best of the quicks.
Roberts only played for nine years - 1974 to 1983. I have no idea why. It surely couldn't have been a case of being a lone ranger. Michael Holding made a huge impact in the 1976 series in England
. Colin Croft also made his appearance around that time and had a very successful 4-5 years before opting to tour South Africa with a rebel West Indies side, thereby ending his international career. Joel Garner was the next bowler to enter the scene, followed a couple of years later by Malcolm Marshall. So Roberts had sufficient support bowlers to ensure he wasn't the only one Lloyd turned to.
So the reasons for his short career are still tough to fathom. Was he an anti-establishment guy? Given the power Lloyd had over West Indies cricket in the 1970s-1980s, it is hard to believe that his writ didn't run and that even if Roberts didn't get along well with the WICB, he'd still have been supported by Lloyd. Did he have a fall-out with Lloyd? Did Lloyd reckon that with Holding, Garner and Marshall in his side, with the likes of Wayne Daniel and Sylvester Clarke in the peripheree, Roberts was dispensable?
I don't know! Do you?! It really does seem strange that a bowler reckoned by the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Ian Chappell to be among the finest fast bowlers they'd faced, to have played only 47 tests over 9 years.