Fidel Edwards, the West Indies pace bowler who has joined Worcestershire, talks to James Peacock
When The Birmingham Post finally caught up with an integral part of Worcestershire's newly-rebuilt and exciting attack, Fidel Edwards had just returned from the Kensington Oval, Barbados, where he had played against Jamaica in the Carib series.
His 19.3 overs for no wickets might look like nothing to shout about but, in the context of his rehabilitation from injury, to be playing again was as welcome news to the fast bowler as it was at New Road.
While the 26-year-old's arrival at Worcestershire for the second half of the domestic season is a few months away, Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes will want his overseas acquisition to arrive hitting the speeds that can have the most accomplished of Test batsmen hopping around the crease and ducking for cover.
Yes, Edwards will be the big overseas name at New Road this summer instead of Shane Bond, the New Zealander, who opted for Hampshire at the 11th hour.
Not many in world cricket do hostile as well as Edwards in form and, after a stuttering start to his Test career, he clearly has the bit between his teeth; he is not coming to England for a jolly but to develop his bowling assets in order to progress in his international career.
If the sun shines on New Road this campaign and the picturesque ground stays free from floodwater there is every chance of the Edwards factor proving a potent weapon in a much-needed new-look attack.
Edwards said: "I heard that the club went under water last year but hopefully the summer will be better this time.
"To be honest, [being from Barbados] I cannot say I am too great about the cold and the wet but it will be down to business as usual once the season starts.
"I know it [New Road] is a very nice place, even though I have never played there, but I spoke to the club and they told me that there should be a lot of grass and bounce in the wicket by the time the summer comes. That will obviously suit me and hopefully I can make use of it."
The career of Edwards, despite being 26, is only just taking off even though he is not short of experience for a young seam bowler, having played in 30 Tests and taken 75 wickets.
His arrival on the international stage came about in a strange way.
Edwards was propelled into the limelight after he had been spotted bowling in the nets by none other than Brian Lara.
Despite a brilliant debut, it became clear that his raw pace needed refinement and that has been a slow process, one helped by his Barbados team-mate Corey Collymore and, to a lesser degree, by his half-brother Pedro Collins, the former West Indian left-arm seamer who has been in sparkling form in this Carib series.
The link with Collymore is perhaps more relevant, and not just because they share the same hand-waving wicket-taking celebration, which is coined from the wrestler John Cena, who uses it to torment his befallen opponents as if to say 'you can't see me'.
Collymore now bowls at a seemingly unthreatening pace but in his youth he was a fiery customer who worked at a snarling velocity more akin to that of Edwards. A series of stress fractures and back injuries forced him to re-shape his action and he subsequently swapped a deal of that potency for accuracy.
For a while, it seemed Edwards's own inimitable bowling style was dragging him down a similar road given his propensity to sling the ball. A Grade 1 hamstring injury ended his most recent tour to South Africa when the side was leading the Test series 1-0.
"That tour did not really go as planned for me," Edwards said. "I picked up a few injuries there but now I am okay and I think the worst of them are behind me.
"It was my first game at home for Barbados this week after that South Africa series and everything seemed to go well. I do not know how fast I was bowling but the ball seemed to be coming out okay and things seemed to be working, so I was pretty pleased seeing as I hadn't played in a while."
Edwards is not your archetypal West Indian fast bowler. At under 6ft he is hardly a giant like Ian Bishop or Curtly Ambrose but what he lacks in height and bounce he makes up for with his skiddy darts that home in at around 90mph, which is something the Worcestershire hierarchy are eager to see.
There is no secret about where the club's troubles lay last season. Australian left-arm seamer Doug Bollinger and the ineffectual Nadeem Malik, to put it politely, did not perform to decent enough levels for a first-string county attack. But some remedial work has been done and in Simon Jones and Steve Magoffin, for the first half of the season, and Matt Mason and Kabir Ali, Rhodes has some proven quality at his disposal if and it is a big 'if' the former England paceman, especially, can stay free from injury.
Edwards hopes he will.
He said: "I have been a big fan of Simon Jones since I first saw him bowl properly, which I think was in the Ashes in 2005, so I am looking forward to working with him. In fact, I am very excited about the prospect.
"I cannot say I know too much about the other Australian guy who will be there before me but there is no reason why all the bowlers in the attack cannot gel.
I am hoping to use my time in the UK as a chance to improve myself." " He is hoping to arrive by July 10, in time to face Northamptonshire next day in a four-day championship fixture at New Road.
He said: "I have spoken to my agent before about playing in the UK and I was told that a few counties were interested but Worcester-shire were the first to come forward, so now I am keen to get going.
"I have been talking about playing England for a long time and I think the experience will definitely help me as a bowler, especially when I tour England."