Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 2nd 2013 Contents A67
Saturday, November 2, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
KOLKATA---When the West Indians enter the
Eden Gardens on November 6, it will be a garrison
for the visitors.
And if Sheldon Cotterell wins his maiden Test
cap in Kolkata, he should expect nothing short of
an ambush with 60,000 raucous Bengalis cheering
in unison for one man. The cauldron that is the
Wankhede Stadium will be no different if he is
made to wait till the second Test.
Cotterell, however, is unlikely to feel out of place.
He has after all dealt with gun-toting gangsters
on a blood-soaked battlefield and lived to tell the
story. And it s not surprising that 24-year-old Cot-
terell, a private in the Jamaican Defence Force (JDF)
who is presently in Kolkata on his first international
tour with the West Indies, rarely looks fazed on
a cricket field.
"I prefer balls to bullets any day. Cricket is not
life and death. There is a certain intensity in both
situations and you have to think on your feet, but
bowling yorkers is far easier than being fired and
shot at," he tells The Indian Express.
In line of fire
Cotterell, who was one of the finds of the
Caribbean Premier League (CPL) a couple of months
ago, recalls his first call of duty not too fondly.
It came in May 2010 during the deadly Tivoli
Incursion that turned a portion of Kingston into
a war zone as the police and military combined
to thwart the Shower Posse drug cartel in their
quest to find druglord Christopher Dudus Coke.
Cotterell lost a couple of his colleagues during
"It was really like being in a movie. I was the
rifle-man, and the gun-battle went on for a few
days. And I was right in the forefront of it exchang-
ing fire. It was surreal," he says.
Incidentally, Cotterell had just received his first
call-up to the Jamaica team around the same time.
Apart from giving the young soldier his taste of
action on the frontline, the Tivoli affair delayed
his first class debut, which would come some six
The strapping, 6 5" fast bowler though has made
up for lost time and over the next three years has
emerged as one of the brightest talents in the
Caribbean, especially during the last season in
which he finished with 17 wickets at 19.29 apiece.
In June 2011, Cotterell showed his true potential
by getting the Indian batsmen, including Rahul
Dravid, to duck and weave with his express pace
and hostility in the Sabina Park nets.
A more memorable episode had occurred the
previous day, as Cotterell, decked in army cam-
ouflage and beret, found himself as one of the
four army personnel guarding the square during
the final ODI of India s tour.
"That was a wake-up call for me. I was standing
there in front of thousands of screaming spectators.
I just wanted to jump out of my camouflage and
right into the maroon West Indian jersey. I realized
that I was close to that reality. It changed every-
thing," he says.
Cotterell s love affair with the game began by
watching the likes of Courtney Walsh and Curtly
Ambrose running through opposition line-ups at
"It was pace like fire. And I only remember them
running to the crease and you wouldn t see the
ball again till the wicket-keeper would throw it
back," says Cotterell.
Though he played junior cricket for Jamaica, he
made a career-changing move by joining the armed
forces right after school, mainly at his mother s
In addition to being a whole-
hearted performer on the field,
Cotterell has also earned a
reputation among his
peers as being the ulti-
mate soldier, extremely
disciplined and a
"The military life
helps me stay
squarely focused on
my cricket and ward
off all the distractions.
But that doesn t make
me boring off the field.
I am generally the life of
the dressing-room," says the
Apart from his bowling in the
CPL, in which he snared eight
wickets and had some of the top
batsmen hopping against his bouncers,
Cotterell also grabbed eyeballs with his
distinctive wicket celebrations, sending
off each victim with a straight-backed mil-
"It was just to tell my army colleagues that I
am always thinking of them. And that though
I m here playing cricket, I will always be a soldier,"
Cotterell, who now has his eyes set on
squaring up against Sachin Tendulkar, doesn t
find it too difficult to separate his two pas-
sions in life and is always
aware of the fact that he could
be called to military duty at any time, except
when he s playing cricket at the highest level.
"It s a wonderful feeling just to be playing
with some of the greats in the sport and I
am looking forward to donning the maroon,"
He adds that his mother, despite being crick-
et-impaired, is equally proud of his achieve-
ments on the cricket field and is his No 1 fan,
who only has a simple word of advice each
Says Cotterell, "All she wants me to
do is to blow the batsman s head off.
Wish all mothers were like her."
(Courtesy WICB web site)
From fatigues to flannels
Sheldon Cottrell ponders his next
delivery during a training session on
Wednesday at the Jadavpur
University Complex in Kolkata, India.
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