Just a question - do we adopt an element of rose-tinted nostalgia about just how good the West Indies pace quartets were? Before you go for the lynching rope and acuse me of being an ignorant idiot, let me say that I'd think they would clearly be some of the, if not THE, best bowling attacks in the history of the game. I truly get that they were a collection of genuinely brillant bowlers who had success around the world. I rate Marshall as the best seamer of all time, Ambrose within the top 5-6, and guys like Garner, Holding, Roberts and even Walsh, as in the very upper echelon.
My question is directed to the attitude that they were so very clearly superior to every other bowling attack, or that they would automatically decimate any opposition from any other era, or that we have never seen their like since.
Now, I admit I probably need to do a fair bit of careful research to answer my own question, which I'll be doing over the next little while, but it occurs to me that perhaps there's room to acknowledge that they weren't actually 10ft tall supermen (well, Garner was almost 10ft tall) who played a different game to the rest of cricket history. They were a few supremely talented bowlers supported with some excellent support, who had a sustained and brillant period of success.
But they can't have been perfect. Occasionally batsmen did manage to withstand them. The Windies did loss some (not many I am very aware) matches. The attack did lack variety compared to attacks that have a world class spinner - often that didn't prove to be a problem, but it's a valid question mark. They played in an era where a more relaxed attitude to over rates existed, and when there weren't the restrictions on bouncers that now exist. Helmets were a relatively new phenomenom, and didn't offer the batsman the level of protection that now is offered (ie. face grilles ffs!).
In the modern game, the number of bowlers who have managed to average in the low 20s has markedly declined, and just as we often suggest modern batsmens' average would worsen were they teleported back to 1982 to face the fury of the full-blown Windies' quartet, I think its reasonable to suggest that some of those bowlers average might have crept up a few runs if they had had to bowl on the kind of pitch that has been common place in the last 10 years, to batsmen in modern helmets, with modern bats.
Hell, I might be wrong, but just a question that I thought would generate some interesting discussion.