Courtney Walsh (1962 - ) - The National Library of Jamaica

Courtney Walsh (1962 - )

Courtney Andrew Walsh was born on the 30th of October 1962 to parents Joan Wollaston and Eric Walsh and raised on Molynes Road in the Half Way Tree area of Kingston.

A lanky six footer Courtney Walsh, known by close relatives and friends as ‘Mark’ or ‘Cuddy,’ grew up to be a very ambitious young man. The Melbourne Cricket club was the starting point of this legend. Born on the southern wall at Melbourne, Courtney grew up on cricket, hearing the sound of bat hitting ball, evening after evening.

During his high school years he attended Excelsior High school, there Courtney specialized in Accounts and Commerce, however, he was most passionate about cricket. Courtney joined the Sunlight Cup Cricket team at Excelsior where he made local history as the only school boy to capture all 10 wickets in an inning in a match against Camperdown High.

Walsh was selected as a member of the Jamaica youth team in 1983 where he contributed towards the team’s victories. Two clubs sought to have his services. One of which was Gloucestershire, who he signed a contract with in 1984 that lasted for 14 years before it ended acrimoniously late in 1998. There he got the nickname ‘Duracell’, because of his ability to bowl long spells.

Courtney was member of The West Indies Cricket team for 18 years starting on his journey to success in 1984 – 85 when he had his test debut against Australia at Perth. Courtney took his first wicket, M.G. Wood caught by R.B. Richardson for 56.

In 1988, Courtney took a unique Hat Trick in the first test of the 1988-89 series against Australia in Brisbane with last ball of first innings and first two balls of his first spell in the second innings. By 1994, Walsh was appointed West Indies captain for a tour of India and New Zealand. In 1995, he had his test careers best bowling performance of 7-37 in the second test against New Zealand in Wellington. He became the second Jamaican and the seventh West Indian bowler to take 200 wickets in test cricket when he trapped Bast Ali, leg before wicket in the second innings of the second test against Pakistan at Kensington Oval, Barbados. Also, Courtney achieved his landmark 300-test wickets during the sixth and final test against England at the Oval. Walsh continued to create history in 1998 when he became West Indies leading Wicket-taker in tests when he passed Malcolm Marshall’s Mark of 376 wickets in his first test against South Africa in Johannesburg. In 1999, when he became the first West Indian and only third bowler in test history, after Kapil Dev (434) and Sir Richard Hadlee (431), to take 400 test wickets.

On March 27, 2000, Courtney Walsh achieved another major milestone by reaching the 500 test wicket mark. This was achieved against South Africa in Port of Spain when he trapped J.H. Kallis, leg before wicket for zero. His 519th and last wicket came when he bowled A. Donald for 10 in the match West Indies played against South Africa at Kingston in 2000- 01 thus setting the world record for the most test wickets taken. It was on this day, April 23rd, 2001 that Courtney Walsh announced his retirement from international cricket.

Courtney Walsh mastered the art of bowling but unfortunately not batting. Walsh now holds the record for the highest number of test ducks (43) whenever he bats. The ‘energizer bunny’, ‘workhorse’, ‘war horse’, ‘old soldier’, ‘veteran’, ‘iron man’ – names which acknowledge the reliability, stamina, perseverance and sheer will that have kept him playing long past the average life of a fast bowler.

Some rewards for his great achievements, honours and awards include:

  • 131 test matches, the most by any West India
  • In 1987 – one of the Wisdens five cricketers of the year for 1986
  • 1999 – Carreras Sportsman for 1998
  • 11th of March 1999 – Ambassador at large and special envoy of the Government of Jamaica by the then Prime Minister P.J. Patterson. Courtney also received the key to the city of Kingston, along with a citation and a copy granting him his keys
  • October 11th, 2001 – the University of West Indies Guild of Graduates prestigious Pelican Award under the theme, “Humanity, Humility and Excellence
  • The Chaconia Medal (gold), which is the second highest honor in Trinidad and Tobago.
  • March 2001 – the Barbadian Honor, the Gold Crown of Merit during the third Cable and Wireless Test in Bridgetown presented by Sir Clifford Husbands (Barbadian Governor General)
  • 2001 – University of the West Indies Guild of Graduates prestigious Pelican Award
  • June 20th, 2005 – road where Melbourne Cricket Club is located was renamed ‘Courtney Walsh Drive’, which was previously known as Derrymore road.
  • 1993 – The Order of Distinction Commander Class (CD) and the Order of Jamaica (OJ), Jamaica’s 3rd highest National Honor.
  • Walsh has an award named after him consisting of a trophy and $500,000, which will be presented to athletes who have represented Jamaica in sports and who have reflected high performance, the qualities of National pride, fine conduct on and off the field and grit and determination.  

Courtney now resides in upper St. Andrew with his two children, Courtney Walsh Junior, whose life ambition is to become the best bowler in the world, and Crystal Walsh. He is also an entrepreneur who owns a sports shop called ‘Walsh’s Sports shop’ and a restaurant named “Cuddies” which is one of the most popular sports bar and grill in Jamaica.

References:

  1. Baksh, Vaneisa. ‘Considering Walsh: profile on of the greatest fast bowlers of all time’. BWIA Caribbean Beat, Sep-Oct 1999.
  2. B/ N (Biographical Notes) files: National Library of Jamaica, Courtney Walsh – containing newspaper clippings with Biographical information on Courtney Walsh.
  3. H/N (Historical Notes) files: National Library of Jamaica, Honours Jamaica – containing newspaper clippings of Honours and Awards given.
  4. Walsh, Courtney. Heart of a Lion. Lancaster Publishing Ltd, England 1999.
  5. Manning, Gareth. KASAC bowls over ‘Cuddy’ with honor. The Gleaner, Wednesday June 22, 2005 Pg. A7