During his mid-1970s heyday, Andy Roberts was one of the most fearsome bowlers on the planet. Famed for his two bouncers; the slow one that drew batsmen into a false sense of security followed by the rapid one that tied them in knots, Roberts was an integral part of West Indies’ greatest ever side.
Roberts was the first of the ‘Awesome Foursome’ to make his debut for West Indies when he shared the new ball with Vanburn Holder against England at Bridgetown in 1974. The other members of the famous quartet, Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Colin Croft would not feature in the same XI as Roberts until West Indies’ tour of Australia in 1979 and the four went on to play together in 11 Tests up until 1982.
Unusually for a fast bowler, Roberts’ numbers were most impressive in India, where he averaged just 19.81. In fact, his away average (23.87) was markedly better than at home (28.75); an indication of his versatility as a bowler and an embodiment of his team’s ability to dominate in all conditions.
In the one-day arena, Roberts was part of West Indies’ victorious teams in the World Cups of 1975 and 1979, as well as playing a key part in their run to the final in 1983. Nobody took more wickets than Roberts’ 26 across the three tournaments and he was among the first players to play in three World Cup Finals, along with Gordon Greenidge, Viv Richards and Clive Lloyd.
Roberts had two successful spells in county cricket, first with Hampshire between 1974 and 1978 and then with Leicestershire between 1981 and 1984. Roberts never averaged more than 25 with the ball during a county season and, of overseas fast bowlers, only Richard Hadlee and Joel Garner can boast a better overall average than Roberts’ 17.97 in the County Championship.
Upon retirement, Roberts became an occasional coach and was briefly a West Indies selector in 2006. He was knighted in 2014 alongside fellow Antiguans, Richie Richardson and Curtly Ambrose.
1951-01-29, Urlings Village, Antigua
Leicestershire, Leeward Islands, West Indians, West Indies XI, Combined Leeward and Windward Islands, Hampshire, New South Wales, West Indies Board President's XI, West Indies