Thelston Payne: My First Test (11 December 1998)

11 December 1998

Thelston Payne: My First Test

by Philip Spooner

Payne grabs five in his only outing

From the rural confines of Foul Bay, St. Philip, came Thelston Rodney O'neal Payne to the Test match stage.

Payne, a country boy to the end, got his golden opportunity when Jamaican Jeff Dujon missed the second Test against England at Port-of-Spain in 1986.

Educated at Princess Margaret Secondary and playing all his cricket for Bayfield-based St. Catherine Club, the left-handed batsman and wicket-keeper was aged 29 when he finally stepped into the fray.

"I was a member of the team for a few years but never got a Test so I felt really excited to finally get into the team.

"When I first got the call I was very happy. Actually I was planning to go to the Cockspur Gold Cup at the Garrison Savannah that Saturday, (March 8, 1986), so the Test match changed my plans," he said laughing.

Payne was understudy to Dujon on the 1984 tour of England, Australia 84-85, and later trips to New Zealand, Pakistan and Sharjah.

For Payne it was literally his one moment in time as it was to be his only game at the highest level.

"I felt I played pretty well in that match," he said in a dry country accent, "it was a typical Trinidad wicket - slow and it played a little low as the game went on - but I did well in the circumstances."

He held five catches in the game and made just five in his only knock at No.7.

Keeping in his familiar broad-rimmed sun hat, in the first innings he accounted for Wilf Slack off Malcolm Marshall, Peter Willey off Patrick Patterson and John Emburey off Joel Garner. In England's second effort of 315 he held Ian Botham off Marshall and Phil Edmonds off Garner to end the innings. Payne did not concede a bye in the first innings but allowed 20 on a low wicket in the second as extras top-scored with 59.

"I was a little nervous at the start, but as time went on I felt really comfortable," Payne said. "Five victims in your first game was a good achievement, I thought, but I would have liked to get a few runs."

Payne scored just five as the West Indies amassed 399 on the back of a Richie Richardson century. "I felt good and comfortable at the crease," he remembered. "My first runs were three off the backfoot through the off-side off Emburey (the off-spinner). Then I bat-padded a ball to Gower who was in close. That was a low point. I was really disappointed and upset."

All went to plan in the game from a team standpoint as the West Indies, under Viv Richards, defeated England by seven wickets to take a 2-0 lead in the five-Test series which they eventually won 5-0.

Dujon returned from injury for the next game in Barbados, starting nine days later, and Payne lost his place.

"I thought the recovery was a little quick, but that's another story. I really wanted to play in front of my home crowd where I knew I would get full support and would be comfortable," Payne said.

He regrets that he did not get another chance. "I felt I could have played as a batsman," he stated. "I toured around for a few years and got just one Test and seven One-Day Internationals and had to watch on as others failed. I made three consecutive hundreds in 1983 and I knew I was good enough to play as a batsman."

Source :: The Barbados Nation (