VIV RICHARDS: a god among men

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Originally published March 6, 2015 (ESPN Cricinfo)

Republished March 30, 2015

A Portrait of Viv Richards by Brendan Kelly

A Portrait of Viv Richards by Brendan Kelly © Getty Images

He chews gum and strolls out casually into the packed arena amid deadening silence and the cheers of adoring fans. His swagger and adorning confidence grow with every step, as does the fear of his waiting opponents. The deadening silence is of his opponents questioning, what have we done? Why did we rid ourselves of Desmond Haynes or Gordon Greenidge? The cheers are from the eager fans waiting to see this “Master Blaster” surgically dissect his opponents swiftly and without mercy.

He unassumingly takes guard. You would not have guessed he was a surgeon or a batsman, but unwisely mistake him for a gardener as he attends to imperfections on the glossy pitch with his willow in hand. He looks the bowler, his next victim or patient, squarely in the eye. Life slowly drains from the bowler’s body as he turns and walks to his mark. The fielders crouch timidly: the “Master Blaster” is ready. With each stride of the bowler, the fielders’ hearts stutter, the bowler’s knees weaken, in fear of the incision they are about to receive.

 

Sir Viv Richards 1 (1)

Viv Richards strolls to the crease confidently while chewing gum

 

This is the series of events that happened each time Antiguan, Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards walked to the crease to start his innings. Continue reading

Remembering Bob Woolmer: A Gem of a Man

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Published March 23, 2015

Bob Woolmer at a hearing, The Oval, September 28, 2006 ©Getty Images

Bob Woolmer at a hearing, The Oval, September 28, 2006
© Getty Images

The preliminary round of the 2015 World Cup has ended. West Indies have qualified for the quarterfinals. My mind is at ease, for now. I sit in the black couch of my quaint living room; exhausted from a day of cooking, cleaning and washing. When you are the father of a 3-year-old that’s all you seem to do: cook, clean, wash. My daughter is fast asleep. Dora the Explorer, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and SpongeBob are sleeping too. It’s time for another love in my life: cricket.

 

Bob Woolmer and Hansie Cronje address a press conference at Lord's, May 1998 ©Getty Images

11 May 1998: Portrait of South African Coach Bob Woolmer and Captain Hansie Cronje during a press conference at Lord’s in London. Mandatory Credit: Laurence Griffiths/Allsport

 

I turn on the telly. Sky Sports has gone back in time. They are showing the highlights of arguably the greatest World Cup match ever: South Africa versus Australia in the 1999 World Cup semifinal. I begin to relive the end of this memorable match. South African Lance Klusener crushes the first two balls of the 50th over to the boundary. South Africa is 1 run away from the World Cup final. Continue reading

CHRIS GAYLE: Could He Be The ‘SAVIOUR’?

By Zaheer Clarke

Published March 9, 2015

Christopher Henry Gayle

Christopher Henry Gayle

Filled with excitement, I enter the buzzing Eastern stand at Sabina Park with my two cricket-crazed friends, Andre and Javed. It’s two hours before the start of the game and the place is packed. We take our seats at the perfect spot. We had no choice; it was the only one left. West Indies almost won the previous match against World Cup champions Australia, and everyone was here to see more.

The game starts. Christopher Henry Gayle takes his guard at the George Headley end. The super fast 100 mph Brett Lee runs in and releases a screamer. All I see is a blur. Gayle, his feet still as a lighthouse during a storm, pelts the ball along the turf, the grass scorches as it travels through cover point. No fielders move. The ball clips the boundary rope, runs hill first up the advertisement boards and sails into the lower floor of the Kingston Cricket Club (KCC). The KCC members scamper hands on heads and ducking for cover. The fans surrounding us in the Eastern Stand chuckle, “Gayle is in the mood for carnage”, Javed says. “Is he ever not?” I rhetorically thought. “Is he ever not?” Continue reading

LAWRENCE ROWE – “I Have Not Seen Such Perfection Since … ”

by Zaheer E. Clarke

Published March 9, 2015

PicsArt_1426834725605

Lawrence “Yagga” Rowe © Cricket International

The ground could hold less than ten percent of the population, yet it appeared the entire island of about 230,000 showed up outside the Kensington Oval to see a man nicknamed ‘Yagga’ bat. The security guards were powerless: the fans had gone mad. They broke the gates free, scaled the walls, and swung from high-tension electricity wires to enter the ground. They sat on the roof of the stands or anywhere possible, including in the seats of legitimate patrons. This is a snapshot of the maddening mosaic of events that transpired on the third day of the third Test match between West Indies and England in 1974.

There have been over 1400 Test matches played since, and 733 before, yet none hypnotized cricket fans as the 734th Test. It offered many romantic stories; however, one solicited chaotic emotions more than all else: Continue reading

Marking those feats of Sir Garfield Sobers

By Zaheer E. Clarke

Originally published March 1, 2015 (The Jamaica Observer)

Republished March 2, 2015

 

Sir Garfield Sobers © Jamaica Observer

Sir Garfield Sobers © Jamaica Observer

 

TALL yet agile, casual yet graceful, special yet modest … a few words used to describe a cricketing genius and National Hero from the island of Barbados.

However, some of his most memorable feats occurred across the Caribbean Sea on the island of Jamaica, the land of wood and water.

Garfield St Aubrun Sobers, aka Garry Sobers, is often described as “the greatest cricketer or all-rounder of all time”. Though known for his all-round feats with the ball, bat and in the field, in reality, he was probably the greatest batsman of all-time or of the modern era (post-World War II). Continue reading