But, New Zealander Sir Richard Hadlee scaled a new high when he set the benchmark at 431 wickets from just 86 Tests. India's very own Kapil Dev went one better to raise the level by three notches at 434. Walsh, Ambrose and Wasim Akram then joined the very elite 400 club.
Walsh now is all set to shine as a lone bowling beacon as he is just six wickets away from a rare distinction. At 494 wickets, Walsh is close to becoming the one and only bowler in the history of Test cricket to reach a milestone, which very few would aspire too in the years to come.
Though a few cricketers like Muthiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka have harped on the possibility of a 500, the distinction of reaching that summit first would definitely remain with Walsh. The West Indian would perhaps feel like Neil Armstrong of the US when he first stepped on to the soil of the moon.
A few other astronauts did land on the moon, but the tag of "first" still remains with Neil Armstrong. Walsh has already got the "first" tag in terms of highest wickets and the 500-mark will be another "first" feather in his already accomplished cap.
To play top level cricket for over 15 years is indeed a tough task and it is all the more difficult for a fast bowler to sustain such an effort. And Walsh all through his years of cricket overcame an apparent weakness, which would have definitely floored any ordinary cricketer.
Walsh could never throw the ball over arm from the deep like any normal fielder. Right through his career Walsh has been throwing the ball from the deep with a bowling action. Though at times batsmen have taken advantage from this "apparent weakness", it has never hampered the competitive spirit of this great West Indian cricketer, who stands to become a legend like Sir Gary Sobers, Lance Gibbs, Clive Lloyd or Vivian Richards.
Though his spirit may be willing despite the flesh being weak, Walsh will look forward to the series against South Africa at home in March to achieve the highest pinnacle.
Walsh, in fact, has come through the full circle of West Indian cricket. From the all-conquering Calypso Kings, the West Indies have been reduced to practical non-entities. Unfortunately Walsh has seen West Indies go through the entire roller coaster. From Clive Lloyd, Vivian Richards to Jimmy Adams, Walsh has been witness to "things falling apart" for West Indian cricket.
Many a West Indian victory has been scripted by Walsh, who found his "pair" in another "amiable giant" Curtly Ambrose, who called it quits at 405 wickets from 98 Tests. Initiated in the company of Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Joel Garner, Walsh continued the West Indian bowling tradition albeit the so called "professional aggression" of the late 20th century.
May be a glare here and there at the batsman after bowling a splendid delivery or at a fielder for having made a mistake were the only tell tale signs of belligerence from a bowler who believed in making only the ball talk and nothing else.
Thatscricket.com takes this opportunity to wish this gentle giant all the best in his endeavour and hope he achieves his feat in the series against South Africa.