CRICKET MEMORIES

“There is nothing more West Indian than cricket,” writes Anu Lakhan. The West Indies team’s great moments — victories and defeats — enter our personal

Beausejour Stadium. Photograph by BrooksLaTouch PhotographyChris Dehring. Photograph courtesy the West Indies Cricket BoardCurtley Ambrose and Courtney Walsh ( with his back to the camera), jubilant despite the absence of spectators at Kensington Oval. Photograph by BrooksLaTouche PhotographyCurtly Ambrose. Photograph by BrookesLaTouche PhotographyDavid Rudder. Photograph by David WearsDonna Symmonds. Photograph by Mike ToyDunstan St Omer. Photograph by Chris HuxleyGordon Rohlehr. Photograph courtesy Gordon RohlehrIan McDonald. Photograph courtesy Ian McDonaldLawrence Rowe batting. Photograph by Sporting-Heroes.netOmari Banks saluting the crowd in St Johns. Photograph by BrooksLaTouche PhotographySchool boys playing cricket in Guyana in the 1960s. Photograph by Chico Khan

There is nothing more West Indian than cricket. There may be things that
are more Trinidadian or Guyanese, or things that come more readily to mind
when one thinks of Jamaica or Antigua — idiosyncrasies of each country
in the chain — but no institution of government, trade, or culture has
been more enduring. Indeed, it might be more accurate to consider it not
the most West Indian thing, but the only true West Indian thing;
the only thing that belongs equally to all the countries that comprise
the West Indies.

Only in cricket is the term “West Indies” more than a vaguely misleading
geographic notion. Long before independence, before the dream of West Indian
federation, before Caricom, Carifesta, and freedom-of-movement legislation,
there was a team called West Indies, fielding athletes from Guyana in the
south to Jamaica in the north. Together, these countries built a team that
could challenge their erstwhile colonial masters and in time humble all
other Test-playing nations.

In his seminal book Beyond a Boundary, Trinidadian C.L.R. James
found that these burgeoning societies, with their complex social structures,
inter-island antagonisms, and agonised histories, could best be fathomed
through an understanding of West Indies cricket.

We found our collective self in the game, and the game came to define
a West Indian character: flamboyant and daring, powerful and dramatic. Nationhood,
identity, equity, equality — the demands we put on cricket have not been
modest. The team responded by giving us our first superstars and our most
cherished regional heroes.

Cricket fans have the most incredible memories. Their heads are filled
with statistics, averages, dates, and names. With its Homeric length and
the infinite combinations in which players may appear in the field and
on the pitch, there’s a record for the breaking at just about every stage.
Indeed, the protracted drama of the game seems designed to create great
moments and legends at the drop of a hat (or catch, for that matter). But
cricket is also a game of subtleties. The cricket fan remembers the acclaimed
performances of speed demons and hard-hitters as well as more humble village
and school matches. It is the game itself, its ethos, that has captured the
imagination of the West Indian people from its earliest stages. What it says
about us and how it continues to inspire us is what this collection of memories
is about. From across the region, with perspectives ranging from the artistic
to the analytic, these cricket fans’ favourite moments testify to the game’s
essential position near the heart of West Indianness.

Anu Lakhan

“Glory be!”

January 26, 1992, Adelaide

Trinidad-born Ian McDonald is the author of the novel The Humming-Bird
Tree
and of several poetry collections, most recently Between Silence
and Silence
. He is the editor of the literary journal Kyk-Over-Al.
He was for many years the administrative director of the Guyana Sugar Corporation,
and is currently CEO of the Sugar Association of the Caribbean. His essays
and columns on cricket have been published in the Stabroek News
and the Trinidad and Tobago Review.

I almost missed the last, palpitating moments. When Craig McDermott
and Timothy May had taken Australia to within a few runs of beating the
West Indies in the 4th Test match, and I couldn’t sit in one place anymore
and my hands felt cold as ice, I told my wife I couldn’t take the tension
any longer, it was ridiculous to feel like this about a game, and I was
going to bed. I will always be grateful that she convinced me to keep the
faith and go on watching in agonised excitement.

To tell the truth, I had given up. McDermott and May were playing with
raw courage and demonic resolution, as had Justin Langer and Shane Warne
earlier in lifting Australia from the dead of 70-odd for seven to within
sight of victory. The great Curtly Ambrose had bowled himself and his mighty
heart to the point of exhaustion. No one else seemed quite up to the supreme
task of dislodging one last Australian wicket. It had become clear that
the umpires were simply not going to give any more lbw decisions in favour
of the bowler, so that batsmen could shuffle across into line without fear
of extinction. (I want to be magnanimous in victory and not sound a sour
note, but I cannot resist observing that while all umpires are human and
therefore make mistakes it does seem that these Australian umpires were
more profoundly human than any others.)

The last chance seemed to have gone when Ambrose, summoning up one last
great burst, induced a slightly lofted push from McDermott, and Richie Richardson
at mid-off flung himself forward and nearly made the catch to beat all
catches — but not agonisingly quite. Australia now had only three runs
to make to win. Richardson entrusted the ball to Courtney Walsh. Perhaps
some of us disloyally remembered how he had been hit for sixes in the past
in the last overs of limited-over Internationals we had lost — but we also
remembered that he had been alongside the great Ambrose in that triumphant
charge on the last morning of the famous Test against South Africa in 1991.
Now May drove his third delivery confidently for one. One to tie, two to
win, McDermott facing.

Walsh bowled too short, which gave McDermott the chance to
paddle the ball hard towards a gap on the leg side. “That’s the match,” the
commentator said. Except that it wasn’t quite. Cricket is a great and subtle
game, and full of ironies. Desmond Haynes was having a dreadful tour, his
batting leaden-footed and unsure, and in the field this match he had looked
old and slow. Yet now he made a play which saved the series and which will
remain vivid always in our cricket history. Young again, quick as a flash,
he leapt to his right and made a brilliant stop of McDermott’s hard, match-winning
hit. Glory be to him! The next ball, Walsh, our spearhead at the last, our
tall warrior, our spes ultima, found some extra pace and venom from
memories of the long line of our great fast men who had nurtured him, some
extra luck from the deep reaches of heaven, and produced a ball which followed
McDermott’s reluctant glove like some sleek and homing missile, kissed it
gently as if to say goodbye to all Australian hopes, and passed on to Junior
Murray, who collected it like a jewelled gift. Glory be to Walsh! Glory
be to Murray!

Glory be to all of them! They urged each other on, they drew inspiration
from each other, above all they never gave up, they made that last effort
beyond even the call of duty, which is what wins battles and matches.

The captain looked dazed with relief and pride. The great Ambrose held
a stump aloft which, because he held it on such a day, will in time to
come grace some West Indian museum of treasures. I hope the whole team
caught the faint echo of the great shout which went up all around the West
Indies.

Coach Rohan Kanhai came leaping onto the field. He must have remembered
another occasion 32 years ago at Brisbane, when the excitement also overflowed
and he was there among the heroes of that hour — except this was sweeter,
because this time we had not just tied the match, we had won, won
by a single famous run which in all the long history of cricket makes this
Test match unique.

As I watched the jubilant confusion on the field at Adelaide, I longed
to see a ghostly group of West Indians emerge from the mists of time —
Kitchener and his men as they had walked across the green turf of Lords
in 1950, when at last we beat England at their holy of holies, singing
Cricket, Lovely Cricket, dancing themselves and their song and their
team and their land into our communal memory forever.

As I danced and shouted and swung my wife joyfully around in front of
the TV set at four in the morning after Walsh had bowled and McDermott had
touched and Murray had caught the last ball of that great and agonising Test
match, an old Sparrow memory sang in my head, the Birdie’s lyrics replaced
by my own:

After the Old, is we Young Brigade,

That victory dem heroes made:
That glory, it could never fade,
One run we win by in Adelaide.
O man, one run we win by in Adelaide!

“A glimpse of the old rebel”

May 13, 2003, Antigua

Trinidadian calypsonian David Rudder has been thinking, writing,
and singing about cricket since the 1980s. Most significantly, he has given
the regional game its unofficial anthem, Rally Round the West Indies.

In May 2003, the West Indies were facing annihilation of the Australian
kind. In the 4th Test in Antigua, Omari Banks, son of Anguillan musician
Bankie Banks, was not-out in both innings. In the second, he partnered fellow
tail-ender Vasbert Drakes to a dramatic West Indian victory and prevented
a complete whitewash.

Rudder saw in the young bowler “the first sign of resistance”, a hint that
the long-floundering team might return to glory. In the liner notes of
his 2005 album, Eclectica, Rudder says Banks “lit a spark that reminded
us of our proud spirit. Let’s hope it catches fire.”

BANKIE’S SON

How do we reclaim the fire
In these times of blight and bling
When our very pride is playing hide and seek
And chaos reigns over everything
What is it about this new generation
Who has never seen the West Indies rule
And every loss is a daggered reflection
Through the heart of our blue Caribbean pool
But something I saw that day in Antigua
Australian power was strangely on the run
It was a glimpse of the old rebel I know so well
I saw it in the eyes, I saw it in the eyes, saw it in the eyes
Of Bankie’s son

Now I’m not here to swell a young man’s head
But I’ve seen enough to know a rebel’s spark
The light of our history and legacy grows oh so dim
But a flame burns brightest in the darkest cloud
Maybe now the “genius man” can build a clan
That would step into the light
And every mother and father, Caribbean leader
Can turn around and start to make things right
The champions’ heads were strangely bowed
That final day in Grenada
You’d never know that they had just won
Maybe they saw it that day in St John’s, that day in Antigua
Saw it in the eyes, coming from the eyes, coming from the eyes
Of Bankie’s son

Rally, rumble, young men, rumble

— David Rudder

“We all wanted to be Yagga”

February 16–21, 1972, Kingston

Chris Dehring is CEO and managing director of the ICC Cricket
World Cup West Indies 2007. He also represented Jamaica in under-19 cricket.
He recalls an incident that took place when he was ten years old. Dramatic,
record-breaking, and full of heart, it is the stuff that makes for lifelong
fans.

I’ve been a member of the Kingston Cricket Club since birth. My father registered
me as soon as I was born, and as a little boy I would go there with him
and run up and down the steps of the club while Test matches were going
on.

When I was about ten, the West Indies were playing New Zealand. I was watching
some batsmen warm up in front of the Kingston Club, and one of them hit
a ball high over the railings. I was just a little boy then, sitting down
drinking a Coke or something, and this cork ball comes flying in and hits
my shin.

Straight away, the batsman came running over. He stayed with me for a while
and looked after me a lot during that day. He even took me into the players’
dressing area. I watched him all day. He would be batting and he would come
over to check me to make sure I was OK. It turned out to be Lawrence Rowe
on his Test debut, when he broke and set the world record. From then, I
was always a huge Rowe fan and, of course, a big fan of cricket.

The game ended in a draw, but Rowe made 214 and 100 not out on his Test
debut. He set a world record. It was the most incredible innings. He was
an incredible batsman, so graceful. He is the only batsman I have ever seen
at Sabina Park hit a boundary and instead of a roar, a giant sigh goes up
from the crowd — like a “whoosh”, followed by a “wow”.

He was so graceful and elegant, like he never meant to hit for four,
but something else. None of the bowlers had his mark. At that match, he
actually looked like he was trying to get himself out in the end, trying
to give away his wicket. I’ll never forget it, because the bleachers were
absolutely jammed, it was a sunny day and the crowd was screaming, “Noooo,
Yagga!”

The crowd was chanting his nickname, and he was rushing towards being
Jamaica’s superhero. Think about Brian Lara today, that was what he was to
Jamaica then; just about 23, and he was going on and on, batting on and on.
First he made the double hundred — which on your debut is rare — and in the
same game he goes on to make a hundred not out. I don’t think that had ever
been done before.

The crowd carried him off the field from the wicket. Back
then, the players stayed in the Kingston Club, that’s where the players’
pavilion was, so they were carrying him right towards me. I remember shouting
and screaming and clapping along with everyone else. I rushed up to the
gate when they brought him in. And they dropped him! I remember distinctly
this massive crowd running out to the field and lifting him up, but then
right as they got to the steps somebody in the pile lost his grip on him
and Rowe fell, but he bounced right up again.

Yagga had become a superstar. After that we idolised him. When you make
two hundred and a hundred on your Test debut, you enter the Test cricket
world as a god.

At the time, the West Indies were definitely on a down, they hadn’t beaten
too many people. Sobers was the captain, and he was the player we knew.
But now we all wanted to be Yagga. He whistled while he batted, that was
his trademark. There are pictures of him cover-driving, whistling away. So
we all whistled. He used to turn up his peak just slightly, so we all turned
up our peaks just slightly. When you were knocking up in games, you were
Yagga. Everybody wanted to be Yagga.

He made a triple century against England after that, but he always had
a lot of injuries. He never rose to his full potential, and then, of course,
he led the rebel tour to South Africa, which was a major disappointment
to everybody in the Caribbean. He was ostracised in Jamaica for a long,
long time after that. I think now all is forgiven, because he really was
that great. He was one of our greatest.

I actually got to play against him in the senior cup, years later. I
don’t think he remembered me. I didn’t ask. There are a couple of things
like that in my life, incidents where I don’t know if people know it was
me; they know me now in cricket, but they don’t know I was that little boy.
We were all once little boys, idolising and wanting to emulate the greats.

As told to Dylan Kerrigan

“They had nothing but their inner strength”

23 April, 1992, Bridgetown

The West Indies is one of the most exciting places for cricket, not least
because the fans are often as entertaining as the game. But what happens
when that zealous support is not there? One of the region’s best-known sports
commentators, Donna Symmonds, remembers.

It was April 1992 at Kensington Oval.  It was South Africa’s first
Test match back in the international fold, and the Barbadian public boycotted
the game. I was one of the very few spectators at the ground.

It was bright, it was sunny, and there were only about thirty or forty people
in total watching the game, and most of them were media, caterers, or security
people.

The Caribbean people were upset. They thought Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge,
and Malcolm Marshall hadn’t been treated well over the World Cup, and then
Andy Cummins was dropped. They decided to boycott the match, and they got
together on call-in programmes and through the papers. I think the message
was more for the selectors and board than it was for the players. But it
was such a weird moment, because we staging one of the game’s most stunning
comeback victories ever, and there was no one there to celebrate it.

Overnight on the fourth day South Africa were 122 for 2, and everybody
thought, “well, you know we’ll be finished by lunch time.” I know the South
Africa team felt that way — apparently they had champagne on ice back at
their hotel. On the last day, we all came back thinking the South Africans
would win. It was traumatic for us, because it was South Africa and it was
the West Indies and, you know, apartheid.

At the close of play from the previous day, South Africa were 79 runs
away from the 201 target they needed, with eight wickets in hand. Vessels
was on 74 and Kirsten on 36. And then, suddenly, they were all out for 148.
Amazing!

Ambrose and Walsh bowled their hearts out. The concentration, the deadly
accuracy, the precise control. It wasn’t just one, it was Ambrose and Walsh
in tandem, and they were just so driven. They were some of the most penetrative
bowling performances I’d ever seen, and it was amazing, because they bowled
unchanged, picking up the eight wickets for just 26 runs between them.
In fact, they got all ten in that innings.

They did it against England again in Trinidad and Tobago in
1994. But the match against South Africa was just more peculiar, because
there were no spectators. They had nothing to lift their spirits but their
inner strength. They had no crowd, nothing. They just had to do it from
their own determination and pride. Something I wish we had now.

They didn’t need twenty thousand people or fifteen thousand people there
cheering them on. They did it out of their own desire. They wanted to continue
this great West Indian tradition, to make this stunning comeback. I was
doing commentary, and it was one of the most bizarre cricketing moments
I have ever been a part of.

The match did conclude just before what would have been lunch. It’s just
the outcome was so unexpected. The next highest score was extras, 11, nobody
else got into double figures. The other scores were like three, two, and
four for the rest of the batsmen, and everybody else got nought. It was
riveting. Ambrose and Walsh were relentless. It seemed like they had decided
that, in these circumstances, whatever, they would not lose. In fact, they
told me as much. I remember a number of the bowlers saying this was one they
could not lose.

We had interviews and post-match reports afterwards, but the most surreal
moment was when they did the victory lap around the Oval in front of an
empty house. Normally, even in a four-day game, when you hear on the radio
that Barbados or the West Indies or Trinidad or Jamaica are nearing a victory,
a crowd starts to gather. They’ll come to see the last rite of the match,
but not this time.


When the last wicket fell, I think Richie Richardson took up a flag from
one of the few spectators and there was a smattering of applause from the
officials and probably the caterers. Ambrose and Walsh had just delivered
one of the finest displays of fast bowling in the history of cricket at
a time when we needed it most, and only a privileged few got to see it in
the flesh.

As told to Dylan Kerrigan

“You got to go all the way”

April 19, 1994, Antigua

There’s something almost mythical about Curtly Ambrose — a great,
silent figure with a smile as wide as he is tall. The Antiguan cricketer’s
pace and precision made him one of the most feared fast-bowlers of his
time. Skill alone would have made him a great player; the heart with which
he played makes him the stuff of legend. He recalls three special moments,
all of which occurred on his home ground, the Antigua Recreation Ground
in St John’s.

Cricket is the only sport that really unifies Caribbean people. We all have
our own soccer teams, but cricket is the only unifying force in the region.
And being so successful for so many years, we as Caribbean people from
small nations enjoyed the success of beating the world. It was really something
special for us.

There are three cricketing moments still very much in my thoughts.

One is the first-ever cricket international I watched as a youngster
way back in 1978, when the West Indies played Australia here in Antigua,
and a young Desmond Haynes scored 148. Me and my mum went. She was the big
cricket fan. I was never much of a cricket fan growing up. Basketball and
football were my passions. But she forced me to go anyway. In 1978, I was
14 going on 15, and it was one of the most remarkable things I’d seen.

Then in 1986, against England in Antigua when I watched Viv
Richards score the fastest hundred in Test cricket, that was something.
I’ve always admired him, the way he plays his game — with so much passion,
and he never gives up. He is the kind of guy who fights to the end. I’m
pretty much the same in anything I do. I like to be a winner. I was there
to witness that occasion and it was really brilliant. He was just in that
mood that particular day. And we all know with Viv, when he’s in that kind
of mood there’s not too many bowlers who can stop him, really.

And, thirdly, here in Antigua again, Brian Lara’s 375 in 1994. Of course,
I was a part of that team. That was very special for me, and for Brian
and the whole Caribbean. I had a feeling he was going to do that on that
day, because I remember clearly we had already won the series, 3–1, and
that was the last Test. He was 200-plus overnight, and I said to him, “You
got to go all the way, you know. You have to go get it.” He was confident,
and so was I, and he got it. That particular innings, or that whole series
for that matter, took Brian on top of the world. That changed his whole life
completely.


I don’t think there is a danger we could lose this passion, because even
before I started playing, and during my playing days, I’ve always heard
people say that football and basketball were going to take over from cricket
— I’ve been hearing it for many years, but because cricket is our unifying
sport we will keep supporting. The passion is always going to be there.

As told to Dylan Kerrigan

“A monumental thing”

Beausejour Stadium, St Lucia

St Lucian artist Dunstan St Omer creates epic murals and designed
his country’s national flag. With a career so committed to magnificence
and the enduring design, it is not surprising that his favourite memory
is not of anything so ephemeral as a single game, but of a permanent structure.

“Iam not a cricketer,” says Dunstan St Omer. “I speak as an artist. I believe
in the grand and the spectacular monument, and this is one. The whole cricketing
world has acclaimed it one.”

St Omer’s first sight of St Lucia’s cricket stadium at Beausejour (opened
in 2002) was a defining moment. He saw in it a celebration of the hopes
and aspirations of the people of St Lucia.

One drives through the countryside, he says, and then suddenly, “out of
the bush, out of the blue”, there is this spectacular monument. He was awed
by the majesty, the grandeur, the beauty of the stadium. The lovely atmosphere
of openness, the angular architecture set against the backdrop of the green
hills, a wonderful breeze blowing through it.

For St Omer, the monumental has always been important; in his own work
he tries to create something that inspires faith, hope, and joy in a structure
of lasting design. Some of his most important works are murals of the black
Holy Family in the Roman Catholic cathedral in Castries.

“Cities like New York have skyscrapers that make them unique.
In the Caribbean, cricket is what made us special, although it has been
difficult recently. Now, though, here in Beausejour Stadium, we have a grand,
modern, monumental structure that makes us unique and, more, that in times
of economic hardship and pessimism lifts all our people at once into a new
age; a gesture of optimism and faith that will bring our people’s aspirations
into modern times and give them a sense of encouragement to spur them on.
We have shown that in times of hardship, the appropriate response is not
pessimism and stinginess; in Beausejour Stadium, our government has built
a monumental thing that embraces the whole country, enthuses all of our
people, and makes us proud of being not only the best in the Caribbean,
but among the best in the world.”

Jane King

“Six times twelve they wanted”

Gordon Rohlehr is professor of West Indian literature at the University
of the West Indies, St Augustine. Born in Guyana, he lives in Trinidad,
and has written extensively on calypso. Here he remembers two matches in
which the gods of cricket smiled on him.

One learned the game first on the uneven sand and clay pitches of Suddie,
Essequibo. The balls were limes, tennis balls, cork balls, the occasional
balata ball made from lumps of dried latex, which was boiled and moulded
to roundness in the sunken bottom of a cider bottle. It could also be a
katakee ball, made from the wooden knot of some hardwood tree and shaped
to an object that was partially round and partially cuboid. This was the
most dangerous of hard balls, used only in times of direst emergency.


The bats were of hardwood or barrel staves or dried coconut branches, six
to eight inches broad and good for “blotting”, defensive plodding forward.
Store-bought willow bats were a rarity, and were, in any case, too big
for us at that stage.

One next learned the game in one’s backyard, on a treacherous and narrow
strip of mud; or on the mud-track that served as a road, where the field
of play, 15 metres wide, was flanked by two noxious trenches. A good road
cricketer could simultaneously develop skills feeling for mudfish: patwa,
yarrow, sunfish, houri. One also played in the Lutheran schoolyard, a space
that looked like and often doubled as a cow pasture. There one played “out-for-play”,
where whoever fielded the ball bowled and whoever got a batsman out batted.
Out-for-play was tough, grim, individualistic cricket, which reflected our
approach to both sport and life.

One also played the game in school, on the marvellously manicured pitches
of Queen’s College in Georgetown. In the Christmas term there were inter-house
matches. The school also entered teams for the first division (Case Cup),
second division (Wight Cup), and Rajah Cup fixtures. I played in the Wight
and Rajah Cup teams, captaining both in 1960–1961, my last year at Queen’s
College.

My first story — I’m going to tell you two — is about the 1960 Inter-house
fixture between Durban House, the house I headed, and Pilgrim House, headed
and captained by Freddie, a Case Cup player who was particularly scornful
of lowlife Rajah Cup players like myself. Durban House had few cricketers
of any merit. The best of our batsmen, Little Birkett, whose father had
once played for the West Indies and who practised at GCC, our sacred Test
cricket venue, was too ill to play that day. There was my younger brother
George, a fair batsman and off-spinner, who preferred to bowl medium pace,
and there was I, a natural leg-spinner and a fast bowler who, bred on the
out-for-play pastures, had developed what many observers termed a “suspect”
action. The more cruel ones declared the action far beyond mere suspicion.

Pilgrim House had the brothers Freddie and Gary, both First Division
players and hard-hitting batsmen, along with three or four Wight and Rajah
Cup players. We were playing on a drying wicket, that most unpredictable
of pitches, and batting first. We had made 72 runs, a paltry total at most
times, but a fair one on that surface. Displaying supreme confidence in
his team, which had a history of beating Durban, Freddie left to play in
a six-a-side hockey tournament in an adjoining ground.

Gary opened the batting. I had decided to bowl medium pace and put my
trust in the vagaries of the drying pitch. I bowled Gary a ball that was
angled down the leg side, and groaned inwardly, because I expected him to
dispatch it anywhere between midwicket and square leg. He shaped to play
the shot when the ball leg-cut from six inches outside the leg stump and removed
his off stump. I cannot say who was the more bewildered of the two, Gary
or myself, but the manner of his dismissal seemed to fill his team with
dismay and panic. The rest of the team collapsed for 12 runs. George took
three wickets for five runs, and I five for five.

Durban withheld any serious picong until our house Christmas party, to
which we invited Freddie in his capacity as both head prefect and head
of Pilgrim House. In the season of peace and goodwill, Durban’s house master,
Soppy (later UWI–Cave Hill Professor Richard Allsopp) released a ballad
celebrating the match to the tune of Good King Wenceslaus, two stanzas of
which I record here.

One by one they faced the field
Of Durban’s eleven

But no partnership could yield
Eight, or even seven
One made three and three made one
All the rest made zero
Top score six was added on
By Leg-Byes, their hero.

Big Bosco took five for five
Two were bowled and three caught
Bosco Junior, three for five
Two of whom achieved nought
They must learn that they must not
Take Durban for granted
Twelve runs was Pilgrim’s sad lot
Six times twelve they wanted.

The second event happened in June 1964 in Jamaica, in a First Division
match between Boys’ Town and UWI. At UWI, I had played in the Second XI
during my first year, then, under pressure of work, I’d abandoned or been
abandoned by the game, playing only Inter-Hall cricket and bowling only
leg-spin.

By June 1964, I had completed my finals and was hanging around waiting
for results. UWI still had two matches left to complete their First Division
cricket season, but most of their regular team had gone home, forcing captain
Lewis “Guinea” Yearwood to contrive a ragged pick-up side in which he included
me. To my dismay, on the mini-bus to Boys’ Town, Guinea casually muttered
to me, “You opening the bowling today.”

I had not bowled fast or medium for two years, and Boys’ Town had as
their opening batsman a young and rising star named Victor Fray, who in
the 1964 season had scored two or three brilliant centuries, and was heading
both the national average and aggregate.

I was going to have to bowl, I knew not what, to Fray, who would realise
my incompetence and murder my stupidness. Boys’ Town won the toss and elected
to bat. My main objective was to pitch the ball somewhere on the wicket;
and I had to do this with a stiff straight elbow, lest my pastoral Lutheran
out-for-play background revealed itself and the square-leg umpire no-balled
me out of the game. The first ball was a straight ball, slow medium, innocuous,
about 18 inches outside of the off stump and a trifle short of a length.
Fray’s eyes widened; he essayed a fierce square-cut, edged the ball to third
slip, where Doug Rhynd surprised both himself and the assembly by holding
the catch.

Fray out: first ball duck. Thanks, oh mighty Crom!

I got another wicket bowling slow medium straight. It was a slower ball,
which the other opener did not spot, and spooned to Moett at mid-off. Later
on, I picked up two or three bowling leg-spin into a stiff foreshore breeze
that made it difficult for the batsmen to determine the ball’s flight.
UWI batted, then I began to worry, even more than I had worried before
the match started, about what Fray was likely to do to my lollipop bowling
in the second innings.

First ball to Fray: faster than in the first innings, straight as an
arrow pitching middle and off and just short of a length. Fray plays it
quietly back to the bowler. Second ball, duplicate of the first; same stroke,
same result. Then I thought, while walking back to my mark, that Fray would
try to hit me before the over was through, just to prove that what had
happened in the first innings was an unfortunate error on his part and
mere good luck on mine. So I bowled the third ball 18 inches outside the
off-stump, short of a length but a little faster than the first two. It
was the twin brother of the ball I had bowled to Fray in the first innings.
He recognised this and with eyes wide open played the same flashing square-cut,
got the same edge to the same fielder who caught the ball in the same fashion.
Fray, double duck.

I have on occasion heard Fray broadcasting when there’s Test cricket
in Jamaica, and wonder if he remembers what happened four decades ago.

And I have since then met Doug Rhynd in Barbados, when we have greeted
each other with wide grins and the words, “You remember?”

Yes. I do.

West Indies cricket, May and June 2005

South Africa tour to the WI

4th Test April 29–May 3 Antigua
1st one-day international May 7 Jamaica
2nd ODI May 8 Jamaica
3rd ODI May 11 Barbados
4th ODI May 14 Trinidad
5th ODI May 15 Trinidad

Pakistan tour to the WI

1st ODI May 18 St Vincent
2nd ODI May 21 St Lucia
3rd ODI May 22 St Lucia
 1st Test May 26–30 Barbados
2nd Test June 3–7 Jamaica