May 10, 2015 Sports
Colin E. H. Croft
If you were at Kensington Oval two Saturdays ago, second afternoon, Test No. 3, as West Indies got five English wickets in a splendid late afternoon burst, to start the tourists’ 2nd innings misery, and you were un-imbibed enough to enjoy the batting collapse and WI celebrations, I envy you.
Yes, I was absent from that wild unexpected Day 2 which changed the game to WI’s favor!
But, in the euphoria, and if you are old enough, you might have recalled that in March, 1994, similar situations obtained against England; Day 4; at Queen’s Park Oval, Trinidad & Tobago.
Many would claim to having been at K-O when underdogs WI, noted in big letters as being supposedly ‘mediocre’ – so said ECB Chairman Colin Graves anyway – beat so-called ‘masters’ England in Test No. 3 to draw that series 1-1. What a fillip for present West Indies cricket!
Similarly, since 1994, many who were not there insisted afterwards that they were indeed at QPO.
Therefore, after such a superb effort by coach Phil Simmons, captain Denesh Ramdin and their charges, here is a short history of goings-on back in 1994, my first sojourn as a Sports Journalist and Summarizer, when shoes were on the other team’s feet.
So, batsmen Brian Lara, man-of-match Jimmy Adams and Keith Arthurton’s 126, and fast bowler Kenny Benjamin, whose eight wickets in the 1st Test in Kingston, Jamaica out-bowled Courtney Walsh, (Sir) Curtly Ambrose and Winston Benjamin, put WI 1-0 ahead for the teams’ arrival in Guyana for Test No. 2.
At Bourda, England’s Mike Atherton; 144; WI’s man-of-match Lara; 167; and Adams; 137; scored centuries. 1,078 glorious runs were made in that 2nd Test, but WI still won by an innings and 44 runs, courtesy of the fast bowlers’ determined efforts on a batting paradise; 2-0.
Many may also recall that that game at Bourda in 1994 signaled the debut of the extraordinary twenty-plus year career of Shivnarine “Tiger” Chanderpaul, who got 62 first up.
Nothing in the previous two Tests prepared anyone for the classic in T&T for No. 3, which England badly needed to win to come back into that 5-Tests series.
Dismissing WI for only 252 in 1st innings, then leading by 76 after making 328, England seemed well on its way to winning at QPO; hopefully, for them, to a closer 2-1.
WI fared just better in 2nd innings; 269; Chanderpaul’s top-score 50 helping WI to recover from 167-6.
Needing just 194 to win, in a day and a session of batting, with a world-class batting line-up of captain Atherton, Alex Stewart, Guyanese-born Mark Ramprakash, South African-born Robin Smith, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe-born Graeme Hick and England’s best batsman then, Graham Thorpe, England seemed set to “walk” that Test with time to spare.
But, as is well known, nothing is ever set in cricket in these parts!
After early rains, patrons were leaving QPO in droves that Tuesday, 29 March, 1994 afternoon, standard fickle WI fans already having given up. Those who had planned to attend cricket after work headed home or to bars instead.
Upset and disappointed, expecting WI to lose easily, some caught early flights to Barbados, Guyana and rest of the Caribbean, to Miami and New York, a day ahead of planned departures.
When England started its quest for success, there were less than seven thousand hardy supporters, and a sprinkling of desperate English travelers, on hand to witness that afternoon’s carnage.
With a magnificent display of focused fast bowling, (Sir) Curtly Ambrose, ironically the man who engineered England’s demise two weekends ago, as WI’s bowling consultant, caused airplanes to leave late, ‘maxi-taxis/mini-busses’ to heave to, so that drivers could not kill anyone; grid-lock.
Other drivers pulled into any available parking spaces to enjoy the extremely high tension and excitement as they listened to us on their radios.
By the time Day No. 4 ended, England was in an impossible state to believe or retrieve; 40-8!
Suddenly, as if by magic, QPO was full to overflowing; 30,000 people in a 25,000 arena; with more still coming in – “Wha bhoy, dis is history; ah comin down dey too”.
Entrance gates still had lines of hopefuls when umpires Steve Bucknor of Jamaica and Srinivas Venkataraghavan of India finally called a halt to the destruction caused by WI’s bowlers!
(Sir) Curtly’s bowling that March afternoon in 1994 was as sublime against England as was Argentinian Lionel Messi’s “masterclass” of footballing skills against Bayern Munich last week in Champion League 2015 semi-final first leg.
“Ambi” cleaned up Atherton first ball; LBW for zero. Ramprakash was run out for one, then Smith was bowled by (Sir) Curtly for no-score before any breath was taken.
The best delivery, though, fast and straight, from “Ambi” was one that breached the normally solid defense of Thorpe; bowled for 03.
By close of Day 4, England 40-8, was doomed, eventually ending at 46, its second lowest Test score ever. “Ambi” ended with 10-1-24-6!
(Sir) Curtly in 1994, Messi last week, and WI two weeks ago showed creativity and excellence, not mediocrity. With that kind of perseverance, yes, WI could be good again. Enjoy!
E-mail address = [email protected]
Jun 23, 2021Kaieteur News – The Guyana Badminton Association Team of President Gokarn Ramdhani, Vice President Ayanna Watson and Secretary Emelia Ramdhani along with National and International Champions...
Kaieteur News – I met Leyland DeCambra at the beginning of the 70s. It was a friendship that has lasted ever since.... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders More commonality was shown by CARICOM countries in a vote on Tuesday June 15 at the Organisation of... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]