Rohit, gone for a golden duck. In his next over, McCoy, generating speeds of 150kph, surprised Suryakumar Yadav, too, and had him caught behind. India were 17 for 2 and suffocating.
“I’ve been bowling that slower ball for about 14-plus years,” McCoy had said SportsMax TV in the lead-up to CPL 2021. “I’ve realized the game was changing and I was telling myself that pace don’t matter anymore, unless you mix it up and keep the batsmen thinking. And I’ve been working on that for a number of years and in CPL 2017, I was actually scared to bowl it because I hadn’t perfected it as yet. It was pretty difficult to bowl – the control was pretty hard at first. I used to drop half-pitch, on my toes, over the batsman’s head, off the pitch, but I just stuck with it. Once I master the slower ball, I would have to keep the same arm speed and same action and try not to change anything about it.”
I’ve realized the game was changing and I was telling myself that pace doesn’t matter anymore
The 2021 injury also denied him the chance to play in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) that year. So all that was left was the IPL. McCoy linked up with Rajasthan Royals, who managed him carefully and opted against rushing him back into action.
“Obed is generally a strong guy, normally all West Indians are. But our main goal, at the start of the season, was to make him available for all nets and training sessions and slowly build strength by reducing impact. We took a lot of care and I think in about four weeks he was on the field and ready for matches, bowling important overs for us. The more the bowlers bowl in matches, the better they get. Lunch just got better and better.
“Credit to Sanga [Kumar Sangakkara] sir and the management because we didn’t have soft-tissue injuries and those who came in with injuries like this improved after training.”
“[Fitness has helped] a lot because it has helped me be consistent,” McCoy says. “I’ve been experienced in Indian conditions and England. Different batsmen play different shots and conditions have taught me that I’ve to be smarter and also have a clear head.
“I’m proud because I’ve been putting in the hard work after having the injury for many months. That kind of made me depressed in a way. I wasn’t playing cricket and the hard work I’ve been putting in… that actually helped a lot. I just can’t really explain the feeling [of holding this record for West Indies. All I can say is hard work pays off.”
McCoy has done all of this while his mother is ailing. He even dedicated the record haul to his mother after beating India’s IPL superstars to square the series at the time. Rajamani, however, isn’t surprised by how McCoy has overcome setbacks – both on and off the field.
“I used to sit in the back row of the [team] bus along with lunch and [Shimron] Hetmyer,” Rajamani says. “I don’t think many knew about him dealing with this problem [his mother’s illness] at the start. He is always calm and focused on his training, recovery and bowling. He was very open-minded and I think he was enjoying every moment with the team.”
Had Sheldon Cottrell been fit, McCoy might not even have got the opportunity to bowl with the new ball in the ongoing T20I series against India. Having blown away India’s top order with pace and the middle order with the lack of pace, McCoy is now the front and center of West Indies’ revamped attack. He is fitter, stronger and finally ready for a World Cup.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo