Rewind to Rewind toRSS FeedFeeds


Demented and orgasmic gesticulations

Viv Richards' over-the-top celebrations and a commentary row blighted the fourth Test of 1990 in Bridgetown

Martin Williamson

March 1, 2014

Comments: 27 | Text size: A | A

A bewildered Rob Bailey turns for the pavilion after being given out caught behind. At the extreme left is Viv Richards at the end of his manic, arm-waving appeal, West Indies v England, 4th Test, Barbados, April 8, 1990
An incredulous Rob Bailey turns to head off after being given out at Kensington Oval. Viv Richards' charge has by this time taken him off towards midwicket © Wisden Cricket Monthly

England's tour of the Caribbean in 1989-90 started with a remarkable win in the opening Test - their first over West Indies since 1974 - and although they lost the series, for the first time in almost 20 years they showed they could go head to head with the best team in the world. However, the tour was also dogged with ill feeling, with the dismissal of Rob Bailey by Curtly Ambrose in Bridgetown bringing accusations of racism and leading to BBC cricket correspondent Christopher Martin-Jenkins being taken off the air.

The teams headed to Barbados for the fourth Test with England still one up. The second Test, in Guyana, had been washed out and the third, in Trinidad, drawn in controversial circumstances after what Wisden described as "cynical West Indian time-wasting" as England chased a small target in the gloom.

West Indies were under pressure from the local media, an almost unknown feeling for most of the side who were used to dominating all comers at home, although they were bolstered by a win in the ODI which immediately preceded the Barbados Test.

West Indies took a first-innings lead of 88 despite a hundred from Allan Lamb, standing in as England captain in the absence of Graham Gooch, whose hand had been broken in the chase in Port-of-Spain, and then set a stiff target of 356 with a day and an hour to get them.

In the twilight of the fourth day England slid to 15 for 3. They had earlier surrendered the flimsiest moral high ground they might have held by blatantly and constantly slowing the over rate to try to frustrate West Indies. The simmering ill-feeling between the sides boiled over with the dismissal of Bailey late in the day.

"When I do my little jig, it is ceremonial, just a celebration" Viv Richards

Bailey was a decent batsman whose misfortune was to play all his four Tests against West Indies. Brought in in Port-of-Spain, he had bagged a pair, and he then made 17 in the first innings in Bridgetown.

He had made 6 in the second when the last ball of an over from Ambrose appeared to flick his thigh pad on its way to Jeff Dujon down the leg side. There was a loud appeal that Lloyd Barker, the respected Barbados-born umpire, seemed to turn down, taking a step or two away towards Ambrose to hand him his cap, before changing his mind and raising his finger. Bailey stared in disbelief rather than defiance before slowly turning and, head bowed, walking off.

What was immediately scrutinised almost as much as the decision was the reaction of West Indies captain Viv Richards, who charged towards Barker from first slip "roaring appeals". Wisden described Richard's "finger-flapping appeal" as "at best undignified and unsightly. At worst, it was calculated gamesmanship." Wisden Cricket Monthly referred to his "orgasmic gesticulations"; and Mike Selvey in the Guardian said it was a "demented and intimidating charge".

In the Times, Simon Barnes went even further: "[Richards'] yelling, finger-flicking charge up the wicket looked almost like a physical threat. Certainly it conned a totally incorrect decision from poor Lloyd Barker."

Off the pitch, fighting broke out between supporters after English fans took offence at locals singing "London Bridge is Falling Down" as wickets tumbled. Police were called to quell the trouble as metal chairs were thrown.

"Viv appeals that way all the time and no one coerces me" Lloyd Barker

The local media, understandably, took a different view of Bailey's dismissal and there the disagreement might have stayed had it not been for comments by Martin-Jenkins, commentating for the BBC and heard all over the Caribbean on the World Service. "A very good umpire cracked under pressure," he said. "It wasn't his mistake that was so sad , it was the fact that [he] was pressurised into changing his original decision. If that is gamesmanship or professionalism, I am not quite sure what cheating is."

His use of the word "cheat" was the tipping point, and with the rest day squeezed in between the fourth and final days of the Test, there was no cricket to distract anyone's attention. The Voice of Barbados immediately banned him and a phone-in on the radio station about the kerfuffle lasted almost all Monday.

The Tuesday morning's headline in the Barbados Advocate read "Biased Brits", as protesters held up banners outside the ground suggesting Martin-Jenkins be hauled off to Black Rock, the island's prison. Before the start of play Barker issued a writ against Martin-Jenkins for defamation, and against the BBC for its dissemination.

Vic Fernandes of Voice of Barbados radio summed up the local feeling. "Barbadians have a strong sense of fair play. A love of justice is one of the things we learnt from the British, so of course everyone was offended at the suggestion of foul play."

Inevitably, there were accusations of racism. "The British media corps, and in particular its broadcasting arm, has been seen increasingly throughout this tour as a bunch of whingeing one-eyed men with racist tendencies," Barnes explained. "When a tall white man in glasses talks about cheating, resentment follows as night does day."

After watching replays Richards admitted the decision was wrong but said that "it was up to [Barker] to retain his composure and make his decision". With regard to the off-the-field row he said: "There are a lot of people who are feeling pretty hurt about this, that here we are in the Caribbean and on our home soil, having these guys talk a lot of rubbish on our airwaves."

Martin-Jenkins was shocked by the response, apologised to Barker, and spent the day speaking to the media rather than talking about the game. "Some people have unfortunately taken the opportunity to introduce other issues which have nothing to do with cricket," he said. "It's all a terrible misunderstanding. It's all most distressing. The whole thing has been whipped up out of all proportion. The word 'cheating' is terribly emotive... I wouldn't use it again in that context."

"I can't believe that I have not got by far the strongest case. If it goes against me it will set a bad precedent for the future of honest reporting" Christopher Martin-Jenkins

For Bailey, there was no happy ending. "It was bad enough being given out," he said, "but when I got back to the dressing room, I was so pissed off I gave the fridge door an almighty kick, forgot I had taken off my boot and ended up breaking my big toe."

England showed grit as they battled to save the match on the final day and with an hour to go and only five wickets down - and with Robin Smith and Jack Russell dug in - it seemed they would. But the new ball and a devastating spell of five wickets in 7.4 overs from Ambrose levelled the series and set up the finale in Antigua. Sadly, it was to be no less controversial.

What happened next?

  • West Indies won the final Test by an innings to take the series 2-1
  • Bailey, still troubled by his toe, played the final Test where he made 42 and 8. He did not play for England again, and after retiring became a first-class umpire
  • The legal case between Martin-Jenkins and Barker was eventually settled two years later. Barker received an undisclosed sum, and a letter to his attorney said Martin-Jenkins regretted remarks he made on the BBC World Service had it caused the umpire stress or embarrassment

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

RSS Feeds: Martin Williamson

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (March 6, 2014, 20:43 GMT)

Hitthebatsman. Have you ever umpired a game of cricket or any sport ? Do you know how hard it is ? do you understand pressure an umpire feels under at times ? For goodness sake we are all human and are prone to a little intimidation from time to time from those who have a powerful reputation. But just because he is an umpire you have to go on about him being weak and incompetent. Lloyd Barker was a very good umpire in his time and from what I remember it was the first time he buckled a little bit. Lay off him give him a break. It is the arrogance of Richards here. He thought he was all powerful. You can see he demanded that wicket. I would be frightened out there

Posted by Headbandenator on (March 4, 2014, 18:17 GMT)

"Just a weak umpire"? "Do others appeal differently"? Watch the clip would be my advice and put yourself in Barker's shoes. The most powerful man in the Carbbean running was running at Barker with a maniacal look on his face. Now, tell me how often you've seen Shahid Afridi, Dale Steyn or Brett Lee do it? Yes, the umpire buckled, but Sir Viv's actions were not worthy of a Test Captain, a man of such talent or the game.

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 21:21 GMT)

He was out that's what the records books says. Move on.

Posted by RohanMarkJay on (March 2, 2014, 18:29 GMT)

Yes, this series was significant as being the first cricket series covered by Rupert Murdoch's newly created Sky Cable and Satellite Channel in the UK.

Posted by rizwan1981 on (March 2, 2014, 18:13 GMT)

Umpires from all the test playing countries have been put under pressure by the local supporters

Once Holding was so incensed by a New Zealand Umpire , he kicked the stumps. Australian umpires gave some appalling decisions against Sri Lanka in 1995- Kapil Dev accused Sri Lankan umpires of playing favourites when India were beaten in the 1985 series - Shakoor Rana of Pakistan caused an international diplomatic incident.

An Indian Umpire on one occasion raised his finger to give an Indian batsman out and changed his mind and meekly folded his hand to the astonishment of everyone watching.

Posted by Twinkie on (March 2, 2014, 16:40 GMT)

Viv Richards actually gained a great deal more of my respect for standing up to people who needed to be put in their place! We got those kinds of decisions all the time and it was fine with the English. Their total lack of respect continues up until now and that is why I'm here reading old articles instead of watching the current match in Antigua. I have no interest in watching cricket when it is being administered solely by Indians, Australians and Englishmen. We should be past that by now!

Posted by testmatchmac on (March 2, 2014, 5:58 GMT)

this is based purely on umpire error. do any of Shahid Afridi, Dale Steyn, Brett Lee, and many others appeal any differently? granted, it was a different period but you would expect an international umpire to not buckle under that sort of pressure. Yes it was obviously not out but Viv was at 1st slip, not the best place to see an edge down the leg side. i think its just a case of Viv gettting overly excited (in a very tense situation) to try and win the game. the umpires are supposed to be able to ignore that kind of influence. That sort of thing happens from age group level upwards anyway...

Posted by silverline15 on (March 2, 2014, 4:24 GMT)

Before this test Devon Malcolm had publicly stated he had the formula to take Sir Viv's wicket. Obviously Sir Viv could not let him get away with that. Sir Viv actually sat at the bottom steps of the pavilion and cried when he got out for Round 78. This all over shadowed a brilliant 164runs made by Carlisle Best.

Posted by   on (March 2, 2014, 3:51 GMT)

Hey thanks for watching my video, great article too! Viv Richards is till a hero of mine too, but this was a very suspect piece of cricket.

Posted by Hitthebatsman on (March 1, 2014, 23:09 GMT)

I'm sorry but isn't this just a case of a weak umpire?!?... If you say 'not out' initially, you better stick with it regardless of the appeal! that is what umpires do... in modern day cricket, many players appeal ferociously, but all the umpires stick with their original choice!..... Nothing wrong with Viv being over excited here... It was simply a weak and easily intimidated umpire...

Posted by   on (March 1, 2014, 19:22 GMT)

It was uncharacteristic of Richards but I can image the pressure he was under at the time: Being behind in a home test series against an England side stripped of many of its best players and who were fielding a bunch of rank newcomers and second string players recalled from the wilderness. Richards as a captain and player had been undone in the first test by a wayward fast bowler and a classic English county seamer led by a second choice captain. He missed the next match played and his side were condemned for their time wasting in the 3rd test, a match they should have lost. Then in the 4th test things aren't going exactly to plan....a desperate skipper resorted to desperate means.

Posted by John-Price on (March 1, 2014, 17:34 GMT)

@Rexton87 - you may be surprised to learn this but Stuart Broad is not the first batsman to refuse to walk. Also, you cannot possibly know what the outcome of the match would have been if he had been given out. To simply deduct the extra runs he scored after the disputed decision is absurd - the whole course of the match would have been different from then on.

Posted by sheru-sher on (March 1, 2014, 17:26 GMT)

Is the knighthood of Vivian Richards a UK knoghthood or an imitation watered down Antiguan brand.I know the knighthood of Gary Sobers is real and deserved. Sir Vivian Richards ?

Posted by RahulWise on (March 1, 2014, 17:19 GMT)

I dont think this was the only incident involving Viv or WI team of 80s. Luckily for them, in those days TV broadcasting was not as detailed and indepth as it is today, otherwise many other 'acts' of them would have got caught. In my opinion, WI 80s team was no different from Aussies of 2000s.

Posted by Rexton87 on (March 1, 2014, 16:35 GMT)

@jw76 Is it only for Viv Richards and the likes to strive and earn your respect? What about Stuart Broad, Mike Gatting and Ian Botham. I don't see no ugly celebrations and ( other derogatory titles) . He was running and celebrating because he believed the batsman is out, hardly a hanging offence. Much more shameful was the episode when Broad nicked a ball clear as daylight and saw it caught behind with his own eyes and did not walk and thus claiming a victory in a test match which they sure would have lost.

Posted by SeamingWicket on (March 1, 2014, 15:38 GMT)

There is a video of Vivs funny appeal on youtube

Posted by   on (March 1, 2014, 15:31 GMT)

Remember this series and this incident well. The first series Sky showed live, before even the days of Sky Sports, there was some scarily good fast bowling from Ambrose and Bishop, some very gutsy batting from Robin Smith, Jack Russell, Allan Lamb and Graham Gooch, great bowling from Malcolm and Fraser, an amazing upset win in the first test, Desmond Haynes's time wasting to deny England a victory in the third test, this incident in the fourth test and then Robin Smith in particular being peppered with bouncers by Ian Bishop in the final test in Antigua. Watched regular highlights on BBC and particularly remember a very good montage at the end of the series. Featured lots of ducking and swaying England batsmen, some flying stumps, Graham Gooch yelping with pain with his broken hand in the third test, and set to Dire Straits' 'Brothers in Arms'. Great memories!

Posted by   on (March 1, 2014, 11:41 GMT)

Jay Stevens - it's an article about something that happened in cricket's history. That's why it is in a column called Rewind. It is about an incident and the subsequent fallout. There is no other deep and sinister reasoning behind it

Posted by george204 on (March 1, 2014, 9:59 GMT)

There was another post-script to this incident which you haven't mentioned: Viv Richards barging into the press room in Antigua to berate Daily Express journalist James Lawton. A lot of goodwill was lost over the way West Indies behaved in the last 3 tests of this series.

Looking back, you could argue that the West Indies' decline started here. Although it would be another 4 years until Australia beat them, the cracks started to appear in this series.

As for England, they were to suffer another decade of failure & humiliation (though they did draw their next two home series against the West Indies, in '91 & '95), but two players who would be instrumental in their post-1999 recovery made their test debuts in this series: Alec Stewart & Nasser Hussain.

Posted by   on (March 1, 2014, 9:31 GMT)

Wonder what is the actual purpose of the author bringing this incident in a well compiled article at this very moment when England currently touring West Indies? See the video replay and be the judge yourself, it was one of those errors by the umpire and don't we see such things in cricket even today despite having all the technical assistance of hundreds of people? Mind you during this match none of these facilities were available and further commentators were not not financially rewarded to keep their blunt opinions to themselves! It was just another incident, comment and a result which is been dug into with no purpose; if you listen to Channel 9 commentary team when Australia plays a cricket match it is more biased than anything and no one goes to court!

Posted by nursery_ender on (March 1, 2014, 8:24 GMT)

Is my memory failing? Wasn't the start of play on the day after this incident delayed because Richards, instead of leading his team out, was in the media centre threatening various journalists with physical retribution? Or was that on a different occasion? That was in the following Test in Antigua which will be dealt with in another Rewind - Martin Williamson

Posted by vatsap on (March 1, 2014, 7:48 GMT)

Another brilliant article from MW. Never knew that CMJ was suspended. What Viv Richards did was disgraceful and his comments after watching the replay and on the people on the stands even worse. The Windies of the 70s and 80s had many such bad moments, the NZ tour of the early 80s, Dessie Haynes time wasting, Clive Lloyd's comments on Indian umpires in 1983-84. They were indeed poor losers.

Posted by george204 on (March 1, 2014, 7:28 GMT)

Rob Bailey was mightily unlucky - one of England's "lost generation" of batsmen who never really got a decent chance in Test Cricket. Rob Bailey, John Morris, Neil Fairbrother, Martyn Moxon, Hugh Morris, James Whitaker were born within a few years of each other, played over 2000 first class games, scored over 120,000 runs and nearly 300 centuries between them (in an era of generally poor county pitches), yet none of them played more than 3 consecutive tests or 10 in total - not surprisingly, none of them made a test 100. Only England could waste so much talent.

Posted by jw76 on (March 1, 2014, 6:52 GMT)

I'm afraid Viv Richards lost a great deal of my respect in this series, both for this incident and for the way he robbed England of victory in the Trinidad Test with outrageous time-wasting. Yet more examples of how the spirit of the game yields to win at all costs in modern Test cricket and sport is no longer sport.

Posted by   on (March 1, 2014, 5:38 GMT)

Great read... kudos to Martin Williamson for treating us with a fascinating slice of Cricket History!!!

Posted by Engle on (March 1, 2014, 4:19 GMT)

But for Viv's ' orgasmic gesticulations ', no one would ever know of a Rob Bailey. A decent fellow, I'm sure, unjustly treated - but then again, this will probably be the only talking point of his Test career.

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email Feedback Print
Martin WilliamsonClose
Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.

    Last ball, last wicket, and Northants' parched spell

Ask Steven: Also, Vijay Manjrekar's nickname, Abid Ali's no-ball, oldest double-centurions, and this decade's leading players

    'I ensured there was no regionalism in selection'

Couch Talk: Former India batsman Chandu Borde reflects on his career as a player, mentor, manager and selector

Lehmann enters uncharted territory

Daniel Brettig: The Pakistan Tests provide the first significant juncture of his new phase as Australia's established coach

    The man who pulled New Zealand from the precipice

Brendon McCullum's runs and leadership have rescued New Zealand cricket from its lowest ebb. By Andrew Alderson

Cricket: complex, unknowable cricket

Jon Hotten: We, as players and spectators, are finite, but cricket, utterly brilliant in its design, is not

News | Features Last 7 days

How India weeds out its suspect actions

The BCCI set up a three-man committee to tackle the problem of chucking at age-group and domestic cricket, and it has produced significant results in five years

The insecure kid who never grew up

Kevin Pietersen missed the point of life in the second half of his career, failed to show maturity, and has regressed to being the bitter youngster who left Natal years ago

India's other keeper stumped again

Throughout his career, Wriddhiman Saha has suffered from being in the same generation as MS Dhoni. However, those close to the player believe that Saha has never been one to take rejection personally

A rock, a hard place and the WICB

The board's latest standoff with its players has had embarrassing consequences internationally, so any resolution now needs to be approached thoughtfully

Kohli back to old habits

Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala

News | Features Last 7 days