'A gentleman and a fine conversationalist'
Gerry Alexander, who passed away this week, was one of the finest wicketkeeper-batsmen I have ever seen. He had another great attribute in that he was 'a good bloke,' liked around the cricket world for his skills but just as much for his communication and camaraderie.
He was a very good cricketer. During the tied-Test series he was the man we feared with the bat in the bottom half of the order. In all five Tests he did something, whether it was first innings or second. Scores of 60, 72, 108, 63*, 87* and 73 are those of a genuine batsman and, when you add to that his athletic keeping, it makes for an outstanding cricketer.
Additionally, as noted, he was a gentleman and a fine conversationalist; and a wonderful lieutenant to Frank Worrell, who was the first black player to be permitted to lead a West Indian team on tour. Frank was the best captain I played against; I know he never berated his players for mistakes but gently made it clear that they should heed the lesson.
Gerry Alexander has always been etched in my mind for the run out of Wally Grout in the tied Test on the final day. Conrad Hunte was the fielder chasing the ball struck by Ian Meckiff almost to the midwicket boundary.
The throw from Hunte was superb, but it was flat and fast and Alexander was looking into the sun as he prepared to try for the run-out of Wally Grout. He gathered the ball and hurled himself into the stumps to achieve the dismissal, part of an extraordinary piece of cricket. A splendid cricketer Gerry Alexander, and I shall be raising a glass to him in Sydney tonight.