Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 13th 2015 Contents "The greatest deception men suffer is from
their own opinions!" So suggested master-
craftsman and all-around Italian genius
Leonardo da Vinci.
Considering that this artist, mathematician,
builder, historian and designer produced the
Mona Lisa, which no one, even now, can fully
decipher; was "she" his mother, his lover, he
himself, etc. Leonardo s thought could also be
apropos to West Indies captain Jason Holder
and head coach Phil Simmons, who in their
politically-correct opinions, told us to expect
more than we expected.
More colloquially speaking, "The only person
that you cannot fool is yourself," even if some
try. Everyone hoped for the best but most
expected the worst. Test No 1 at Bellerive Oval
in Hobart was quite poor for WI!
Despite Darren Bravo s fighting century, these
are decidedly desperate times for WI s senior
men s team. Having been seriously embarrassed
by Australia s No 2 team; Cricket Australia XI;
with six players making First Class debuts, West
Indies No 1 team has been palpably pummeled
to a paper-like pulp by Australia s No 1 team
in the opening Test, losing by an innings and
Reminiscing Australia s Caribbean tour 1978,
quite similar but opposite situations occurred, with
a quickly scrambled Australian No 2 team being ini-
tially battered by WI s No 1 team in two Tests.
Then "you know what" hit the fan, courtesy of
Kerry Packer s World Series Cricket (WSC), subse-
quently replaced by a more even contest too, with
WI s No 2 team eventually playing Australia s No 2
team in Tests No 3, 4 and 5 of that series, after we
had been dropped from Test No 3 in Guyana.
Putting 1978 s Australian tour to the Caribbean
into proper context, per clouds of discontent, WSC
and cricket authorities worldwide, the tourists had
a great excuse. But what is WI s now?
1978 versus Australia was my second Test series,
after getting 33 wickets in my first Test series against
Pakistan in 1977. Also in that Pakistani series, Joel
"Big Bird" Garner had 25 wickets, so neither of us
could have been dropped in 1978, which was good
enough for us.
But by 1978, Desmond "Dessie" Haynes, Richard
Austin and myself had also signed for WSC, with
Garner and rest of that included team, for Tests Nos
1 and 2, already under the microscope, having signed
for WSC in 1977. Australia, on the other hand, decided
that their touring team to WI in 1978 would not
include any WSC-signed players at all. Hence, Aus-
tralia s No 2 team arrived then!
Nine of Australia s 1978 team to the Caribbean
made ODI debuts in Antigua & Barbuda for the first
of two ODI s, while Test No 1 at Queen s Park Oval,
T&T, and Test No 2 at Kensington Oval, Barbados,
went completely as expected; WI winning both very
convincingly; by an innings and 106 runs and by
nine wickets. Australia s No 2 was no match for WI s
I always remember two events from that 1978
series. Firstly, in those first two Tests, I actually
bowled to Robert "Bobby" Simpson, who, adamantly
against WSC, was called out of retirement to captain
that Australian touring team.
Actually, surreally, for my first ever glimpse of
Test cricket, 1965 at Bourda, Georgetown, aged 12,
I had seen Simpson and William "Bill" Lawry open
batting versus WI; against (Sir) Gary Sobers, (Sir)
Wes Hall, Charlie Griffith and Lance Gibbs. It was
tough but WI cleaned up to win by 212 runs.
Secondly, the second Test at Barbados, everyone
who saw it, including us in WI s dressing room, are
still convinced that Jeffrey "Thommo" Thompson s
spell on the evening of the first day, is still the fastest,
most consistently hostile bowling spell ever witnessed
by anyone anywhere, and that assessment includes
Michael Holding s spell at the same ground versus
England, in 1981. Thommo was flying!
WI closed day one at 71-3, chasing Australia s 250,
with Gordon Greenidge, (Sir) Viv Richards and Alvin
Kallicharran all dismissed in quick succession by
sheer pace and bounce from "Thommo the terrible",
while Haynes, dropped twice, somehow survived
Then, to my consternation, captain Clive Lloyd,
a twinkle in his eyes, suggested: "Crofty, pad up for
your usual nightwatchman duties!" I bluntly refused,
the only time ever that I refused any batting offer,
with the outburst; "Skipper, are you crazy? G s
Smokey and Kalli could not cope with that terror
out there, yet you want me to be nightwatchman?
Are you mad?"
Everyone in the dressing room, including Lloyd,
laughed loudly. Apparently, he was only pulling my
leg. Of course, Lloyd padded up to bat next.
But Simpson in 1978 was also realistic. While
grudgingly acknowledging that 1978 s WI was nearly
at the top of its game; that came in 1979-80 in Aus-
tralia; at least he identified players in his own team---
Graeme Wood, Steve Rixon, Rick Darling, Graeme
Yallop and Bruce Yardley---who, in time, would serve
Australia well in the future. Simpson was correct on
Anyway, after absolute capitulation, except for
"Young" Bravo and Kraigg Brathwaite s sturdy second
innings effort at Hobart, what promises do other
WI players provide now? Not many! Enjoy!
December 13, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
COLIN EH CROFT
Windies get slap of reality in huge innings loss
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