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Monday, April 22, 2019

the tragic tale of a West Indian pace bowler


A few years ago, the Brooklyn-based, Vincentian group, bestowed its Lifetime Achievement Award on former West Indies fast bowler Winston Davis. When Winston Davis played cricket, he was the fastest (bowler) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the West Indies,” said Howie Prince, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Consul General to the United States, in his remarks.

Chris Gayle and Jason Holder with Winston Davis (guyanachronicle.com)

India lost badly in Pakistan in 1982 and then embarked tough tour to West Indies with Kapil Dev at the helm.  For adding weight, experienced Srinivasa Venkatraghavan and Anshuman Gaekwad were recalled.  There was some talk of rivalry between West Zone and North Zone.  ..   1983 was the best as India peaked to win the World Cup beating the mighty West Indies twice ..  .. a few months before  came their first win ever against West Indies.  It was at a place called Berbice, where India went to play having lost the first Test and ODI and drew the 2nd test.  Berbice was the place of Rohan Kanhai – reportedly, the turnout was so huge that they erected temporary stands. 

                Sunil Gavaskar made a good start and scored a 90 !  - was run out.  Then came the great knock by cavalier Kapil Dev - 72 off 38 balls, three sixes and seven fours on the way and lifting India to 282 for 5 in 47 overs, their highest score till then in ODIs.  Kapil combined  with Balwinder Sandhu, got rid of the dreaded opening pair of Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge early. – in that match debuted Winston Davis – sad that a bowler who primed in a match in WC is confined to wheel-chair.

1983 World Cup was to start rather differently for the Australians.  Zimbabwe carted the biggest upset.  Duncan Fletcher scored 69 not out, claimed 4 for 42, and led Zimbabwe to a 13-run victory over Australia. The Trent Bridge encounter was Zimbabwe’s first World Cup match.  Elsewhere, in Old Trafford, India made a big  262 for 8 and reduced West Indies to 157 for 9 before Andy Roberts and Joel Garner went berserk, adding 71 for the last stand. The 34-run defeat was West Indies’ first in the history of the tournament; it was also India’s first.   Thus, when the West Indies and Australia met at Headingley for the second match, both were desperate for a victory. The pitch was damp, which did not allow play to start before 3.30. When it eventually did, Kim Hughes decided to take advantage of the conditions and put West Indies in.

West Indies finished on a more than competitive 252 for 9.  .. .. it was fearsome Windies - Andy Roberts bowled Kepler Wessels (he later played and captained south Africa),  Holding struck the lethal blow: hit Graeme Wood on the face. Wood’s helmet did not contain a grille; Joel Garner, the West Indian twelfth man, ran out with a stretcher; the Australian support staff joined in, and a concussing Wood had to be stretchered off. He had to be hospitalised.  Kim Hughes hit two sixes, but tried one shot too many: the square-cut came a tad too slow; the ball flew to Lloyd at first slip, and Hughes was back. Then the 24-year-old Davis took over. He was fast, but had been kept out by the quartet of Marshall, Garner, Holding, and Roberts, and had played a solitary ODI till then.

He had Graham Yallop top ending; David  Hookes edging one to Dujon off Davis. MacLeay was his next victim.  Rod Marsh fell to Holding.  Australia still had Border, and needed 114 off 192 balls. Lawson tried a wild heave and edged to Dujon to give Davis his five-for. Border gone to Davis caught by Clive Lloyd. Davis became the third bowler (second in World Cup) to take 6 wickets in an innings. It was only the 31st over of the match. There was still a wicket to be had. Lillee was cleaned up second ball, making Davis the first bowler to take an ODI 7-for. Australia, bowled out in only 30.3 overs, lost by 101 runs.

Sad that the great bowler had to face trouble in life .. .. in Nov 1997, he was doing some service for a church,   pruning some trees, making a clearance, and  went up in a tree. The branch gave way, broke, and fell bringing down burly Davis and sadly was paralysed since.  It reportedly was not a big fall, around 6 ft or less yet the damage for life had been done.   He reportedly moves around in wheel chair, perhaps watching and following the game, which had brought him glory.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Apr 2019

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