Knights, Legends and Rebels

23rd June 2015

Military Mediums – audio/visual highlights

Clips to the on-side

It’s been far too long since I had a little round-up of quality TV/radio/internet items with a WIndies flavour – and these highlights are well worth an hour or so of your viewing/listening time:

Last month Voice of Barbados broadcast an evening show devoted to several of its island cricketing legends, in a programme hosted by David Ellis entitled Conversing with Our Legends. It featured interviews with Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Wes Hall, Peter Lashley and Rawle Brancker. You can enjoy it here.

Sir Wes Hall was also recently the guest speaker at the WICB/WIPA Awards evening in Jamaica, just prior to the Sabina Park Test Match v Australia. He spoke amusingly, and reflectively to the gathered throng, looking back upon his own career and forward to the future of Caribbean cricket. You can hear his speech here.

Another Caribbean knight was interviewed this week on the excellent Couch Talk show. Sir Andy Roberts had the privilege of settling back onto Subash’s davenport to air his views, and you can listen to the interview here, and read a transcript of their conversation here.

I was very pleased that Subash asked one of my questions to the great Sir Andy – and I was prompted to note these further observations about him:

Roberts famously had two different speeds for his bouncers – normal, and fast. There is a famous sequence of photographs from the early 1970s when as a youngster, playing for Hampshire against Kent, he set up the aging England great, Colin Cowdrey. He bowled him successive bouncers which were easily pulled for four. The third bouncer was much quicker and Cowdrey shaped to repeat the shot, but was too slow and the ball broke his jaw.

Sir Andy was also known to vary the height at which he jumped in his delivery stride; to use the whole width and depth of the bowling crease – all so he could appear to be bowling the same delivery, but actually would arrive at varying heights, angles and speeds – irrespective of what else he did with the ball in his hand.

Former England seamer and journalist Mike Selvey told a great story on Test Match Special a few years ago about Andy Roberts & Michael Holding:

Selvey was watching WIndies in the nets, coached by Andy (when on tour in England) and Roberts said that he could turn the cricket ball in his hand while in his delivery stride. He would run up to bowl, clearly showing the batsman which way the shiny side of the ball was pointing, but as he turned his arm over he could rotate the ball in his hand to reverse which way the shine was before releasing. Selvey didn’t believe him – so Andy showed him, firstly at pace, then more clearly in slow motion. Selvey was stupefied – and related the story on radio.

Michael Holding heard this and laughed it off: “He was pulling your leg, Michael! Andy never did that in Test cricket – I opened the bowling (and roomed with him) for 7-8 years. He’d have shown me.”

Selvey believed Roberts though, so organised for him to demonstrate the trick and prove it to Mikey. Which he did! Holding apparently said, “Andy – I played all those years with you, and you never showed me how to do this – it’s amazing. Why did you never show me?” Andy said, “you never asked…”

Holding recently said in an interview that he himself was not one the three greatest WIndies fast bowlers – they are (in his opinion) Marshall, Ambrose & Roberts.

When Curtly Ambrose appeared on the Mason & Guests show last year I asked him if he (Ambrose) would select himself in an all-time WIndies team?

“Good question!” He paused to think. “Yes – Malcolm, Mikey and then me. Plus Sobers & Gibbs.” (Ambrose first change – what a thought!) I pointed out that I knew that Holding would always put Roberts ahead of himself, that Andy was ‘the daddy’ of that four-man attack of Roberts, Holding, Garner & Croft (and note that Roberts always opened the bowling, got choice of ends from Clive Lloyd, and bowled the first over).

I wonder if Sir Andy was picking his all-time West Indies bowling attack if he would he get in it?

Michael Holding was himself a recent subject of a Couch Talk interview (which you can find here), and since I last put together one of these round-ups, the ‘Couch’ has featured several other cricketers with a Caribbean connection you may wish to catch up on. These include Daren Ganga, Kraigg Brathwaite and England’s Phil DeFreitas. You can find the links to them individually by clicking on their name, and you can find a more thorough listing of the Couch’s back catalogue here.

Possibly the best thing I’ve seen lately was a superb documentary on the WIndies rebel tours of apartheid South Africa in the early/mid 1980s, entitled ‘Branded A Rebel – Cricket’s Forgotten Men’. I hadn’t come across this before, and it appears to have been produced a couple of years ago. It is a perceptive, well-balanced programme, which gets its sense of history and perspective of the times quite right. It manages to convey both the anger of the Caribbean community with the rebels, while also managing to sympathise with their personal motivations. Franklyn Stephenson in particular manages to argue his case with both intelligence and dignity. This is a must view, which you can find on YouTube here.

And finally, in case you haven’t already, do catch up on the latest edition of Can’t Bowl, Can’t Throw here. It features two Aussies and an Englishman (talking via Skype from Pakistan) about the WIndies.

Surely cricket analysis doesn’t come much more informed and expert than that?

David

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