The independent voice of cricket


Watch: The iconic Courtney Walsh leaves that helped Brian Lara script one of the all-time great Test wins

Courtney Walsh survives at Barbados, 1999
by Wisden Staff 15 minute read

Watch: As Brian Lara waltzed away to an unbeaten 153 to help the West Indies beat Australia, Courtney Walsh used his own defensive technique to cling on at the other end.

The series was levelled 1-1, and at Bridgetown, not many would have given the West Indies a chance after they became 105-5 in pursuit of 308. But Jimmy Adams (38) dug in for two hours, helping Lara put on 223 for the sixth wicket.

But Glenn McGrath (5-92) struck again, first taking out Adams, then Ridley Jacobs and Nehemiah Perry off consecutive balls.


The West Indies needed 60, but this time support came from Curtly Ambrose, who helped Lara take the score past 300 before perishing with six runs still left.

Out strode Walsh, with three balls to survive from Gillespie. At this point Walsh was 17 wickets away from going past Kapil Dev’s Test record of 434 wickets, but his fast-bowling skills were of little relevance at this point.

What loomed large was a batting average of eight and a half – and memories of bizarre shots, a significant proportion of which had not connected.

Gillespie bowled outside off-stump. Walsh left the ball with a flourish of that culminated in the bat ending in his left armpit, and he did a solo fist-pump.

Phil Walker, Wisden Cricket Monthly editor-in-chief, memorably described Walsh as “a strutting octopus of a No.11, all bulging eyes, alien hand syndrome and inexplicable legs, topped off with a hammy leave-alone that in one motion somehow evoked an adulterous businessman briskly walking down the garden path, head in the air, folding his newspaper-bat primly under his arm as he goes.”

Gillespie had overstepped, which meant the West Indies had to score only five, but it also meant that Walsh had to survive an extra ball.

Gillespie now bowled on the stumps. Walsh had moved outside the line, but he somehow brought his bat down in time and connected. A yorker followed, then a good-length ball, but Walsh survived both, the applause getting louder with every ball.

McGrath bowled the next over. An edge, a wide, and much more later, the scores were tied… but Lara was tasked with the challenge of keeping out another ball.

The situation demanded a mid-pitch conference, which turned out to be redundant, for McGrath’s ball turned out to be harmless, outside off-stump.

Lara sealed the match in the next over.

Watch Courtney Walsh and his unusual survival skills (from 2:49):

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99