CAREW, MICHAEL CONRAD, died on January 8, 2011, aged 73. There were three distinct phases in "Joey" Carew's virtually cradle-to-grave cricket career. While he had a modest record in 19 sporadic Tests in the 1960s and 1970s, averaging 34, he was regarded as a guru in his native Trinidad: an assertive, attractive left-hander, he led them to their first regional championships, in 1969-70, and again in 1970-71, and overall averaged 44. His reputation in Trinidad was burnished by mentoring the young Brian Lara, who spent most of his time in the Carew household while studying at nearby Fatima College, alma mater of both Carew and his son Michael, Lara's closest school friend. In his eulogy at the funeral, Lara described Carew as his second father and "the best captain West Indies never had"; there was certainly more than a hint of Carew's influence in Lara's often unusual tactics in his own three spells in the job.
Carew had been a West Indies selector, an unpaid post he held on four separate occasions, in good times and bad. His first appointment coincided with the withdrawal of the main players after the inception of Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket in 1977-78. He remained when they returned, and carried on through many of the dominant years under Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards. His last stint ended in 2006, ironically after Lara's public and forthright criticism of the panel following a series defeat at home to India.
His lifelong nickname was a consequence of his father's observation that his new-born son's clenched fist reminded him of Joe Louis, but the newcomer's sporting passion would not be boxing. Until a few weeks before his death, Carew could be found at Queen's Park Club, where he was the club manager, sharing his forthright views on cricket - and horse racing. He was especially troubled by the spreading influence of Twenty20.
Carew was 18 when he first appeared, in the middle order, for Trinidad against E. W. Swanton's touring side early in 1956. His 102 against MCC on their 1959-60 tour argued a strong case for his inclusion in Worrell's team which went to Australia later in 1960; but Carew missed out, and had to wait for his first chance on tour to England in 1963 (he returned in 1966). Promoted to open, he floundered in the alien conditions, but found Australasia more to his liking in 1968-69, when his 683 runs in eight Tests included his only century, 109 in the victory at Auckland. Back in England in 1969 he fared better, averaging 45 over the tour, although he played in only one of the three Tests.
His quick wit made him popular, and when the illness that eventually killed him caused his right leg to be amputated, Carew laughed that he would now be committed to playing only on the back foot. He told the visiting Deryck Murray that until then he thought he had survived the worst in life when fending off Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith.