West Indies Cricket December 26, 2008

Little Kalli

From Basab Majumdar, India For a person following cricket closely now for a good twenty years, one would think it would be challenging to zero in on a favourite cricketer

From Basab Majumdar, India
For a person following cricket closely now for a good twenty years, one would think it would be challenging to zero in on a favourite cricketer. Strangely it isn't and I can say with some certainty that my affection and admiration for no other cricketer reached the extent to which I admired Alvin Kallicharran.

Little Kalli, left handed, elegant and compact, came into my life in the winter of 1974. I was just a tad over 6 and this was the first cricket series I remembered following with some intent and interest - in fact, I manufactured my first cricket scrap book where Kallicharran and his latest statistcs adorned pride of place. At that age it was obviously not some rational choice but the newspapers were writing a lot about him in the run up to the tour as a batsman to watch out for. His career was still at a fledgling stage but he had acquired a reputation with centuries in his first two tests a couple of years ago ,and then the monumental 158 against England at home (with the infamous run out incident involving Tony Grieg).

In India through that winter he did enough and more to enhance his reputation. In the first Test (where a certain pair by the name of Gordon Greenidge and IVA Richards made their debut), Kalli scored a fine 124 against the best of Indian spinners on a dust bowl in Bangalore and followed that up with fine knocks in Calcutta, Madras and Mumbai. I followed his career closely and apart from some fine hundreds, he had the dubious distinction of getting out in the 90's 7 times.

His career ended in controversy. Bitter at being ignored for the captaincy after leading West Indies during the Packer regime, he lost some form and it seemed interest. He decided to take part in the rebel tour of South Africa and ended up being suspended from all internationals. He finished his career with some excellent seasons with Warwickshire but at 4500 odd runs and 14 hundreds, the figures do not do justice for one of Windies and indeed cricket's all-time great batsmen.

Kallicharran was a complete player and had every stroke in the book. He played spin and pace with equal poise and alacrity and accumulated runs against Indian spinners and Aussie pacers alike, at their pomp. He was also a big-match player with a penchant for playing crucial knocks at critical times. Of the many gems he played, my favourite is of course the much remembered assault on Lillee in the World Cup group game in 1978. Australia scored 190 odd which the West Indies were chasing. Kallicharran got his eye in and then launched himself into the Aussie pace attack, particularly Lillee. One incredible sequence of hooking and pulling produced 30 odd runs of just 10 Lillee deliveries.

Not since Sobers splattered him all over MCG enroute to the 254 for the World XI a few summers ago had Lillee been so severely dealt with. Kalli's 78 in that game and the subsequent 71 in the semifinal against New Zealand made him the player of the series and one of my pleasant memories of childhood is recalling Tony Cozier over the radio brilliantly describing Kalli's assault that memorable afternoon so long ago.

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  • fanedlive on January 4, 2010, 18:24 GMT

    what vishy is meant for india, kalli is for the westindies. Both are highly gifted cricketers. i have seen people who were travelled miles away to watch this marvels. pace or spin, one can see the ball piercing the boundary line with their velvet touch. Never they are the hard hitters, lesser the pain for the ball but greater the pain for the players who are on the field. kalli is technically a very sound player with fine temperament to win over any mighty ones. we enjoyed watching him but we miss him too as a moment of nostalgic one can't forget.

  • fanedlive on February 25, 2009, 12:15 GMT

    My post is in connection with the write up posted by Mr.Subramani on 31st Dec'2008. He has got it all wrong. It was not the 1974 Ind vs WI series nor the 4th Test at Chepauk in which Gavaskar equalled Bradman's record. The correct series was 1984 between Ind and WI and it was the 2nd test at Delhi he equalled it. In fact Gavaskar did not play the 1974 Chepauk Test because he was injured. I also have doubt about the year he says he is following the game.

  • fanedlive on January 17, 2009, 17:18 GMT

    Kalli was one of the greatest batsmen ever,and like Hardeen below says,he shielded Viv Richards from extreme pace or tough bowling.Check the WI batting lineup and you'll see Kall iwent in when it was rough, and Richards when it was easy. Discriminated against by the WI,he never got his due.Even in his Debut he was given a limited time to complete his hundred so Sobers could declare for no reason(rain had ensured the match would be a draw). Kalli scored against pace or spin, with Kanhai-like strokeplay or dogged defiance he held up the WI batting attack at its weakest. Kalli was a greater batsman then Richards.

  • fanedlive on December 31, 2008, 12:08 GMT

    It was in the Bangalore Test in 1974 that Viv Richards and Gordon Greedidge made their debuts. I do not think the pitch was a dust bowl though. Richards failed but Greenidge almost scored a century apart from the Kallicharan special you talk about. I saw the fourth test of that memorable series at the Chepauk where Gavaskar equalled Bradman's 29 centuries. It was also the series where Pataudi took over mid series and brought it to 2-2 after we were trailing 0-2. We lost the last Test in Mumbai. Incidentally I have followed the game closely from 1954. I still do.

  • fanedlive on December 28, 2008, 22:01 GMT

    i remember listening to kalli bat against one of the asian teams when i was a boy. my older brother was so relieved when he made his hundred because "he famous for makin' 98 an'gettin' out." kallicharan was eventually bowled for 106, a weird dismissal because the off bail fell long after the ball passed the stumps in a sort of delayed reaction. such was the luck of alvin kallicharan the great.

  • fanedlive on December 27, 2008, 15:36 GMT

    And neither do many people know about Kallicharan and Viv Richards was when the bowling was "fiyah," they would stick Kalli in at 3 and pull Richards down to 5. When lollipop was being bowled, Richards would go in at 3 to assault the opposition. Not to take anything away from Richards greatness, but this a true fact and this was all because of West Indies teams always being scared of putting in Guyanese players since there were 7 Guyanese players in the team at the same time.

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