Chin music for the maestros

Mean South African bowlers v rampaging Caribbean batsmen? Bring it on

Clockwise from above left: Richards, Donald, Greenidge, Schultz © Getty Images

I was 12 when West Indies visited England in seminal 1976, and monitored the series as best I could from apartheid-era Cape Town. State-manipulated television was only a year old in South Africa, and lukewarm about showing exuberant black cricketers demolishing a lilywhite nation 3-0.

But we did get the odd, 15-second ingot of magic on the evening news. The men who most entranced me with their audacious strokeplay were Viv Richards (series scores 232, 63, 4, 135, 66, 38, 291), and Gordon Greenidge, who caned three centuries back to back.

Neither would go on to experience top-flight combat against South Africa, but I sometimes contemplate Richards and Greenidge in their pillaging pomp against the South African new-ball pair most likely, in my book, to lay down the gauntlet to them with Caribbean-style chin music: Allan Donald and Brett Schultz.

This was an explosive, yet all-too-brief, alliance. Injury-bedevilled Schultz - all heft and huffing testosterone, the left-arm catapult landing from a high spring with all the delicacy of a Boeing 747 doing a belly-landing - played only nine Tests. But he shared the cherry with the contrastingly panther-like "White Lightning" each time, and South Africa did not lose any of those outings.

Richards and Greenidge on the hook, pull, or upper-cut against these two? Quickly, you feel, something would give, be it the cheekbone of either batsman or the front teeth of some hapless spectator in Row W.

Robert Houwing is chief writer for in South Africa