30 October 1998
Carlisle Best: My First Test
by Philip Spooner
Gung-ho From The Start
Carlisle Best was green but confident on his Test debut. Fans were also happy when he made his first century.
Carlisle Best announced himself on the Test stage in grand style, hooking his third ball for six.
The venue was Sabina Park, Jamaica, and the 26-year-old Best, who earned his selection after consistent performances in regional competition, smashed a short ball from Ian Botham deep into the crowd behind long-leg.
Oh man! what a way to get going, the ever-confident Best said with a laugh. Mind you, it did not quite go where I wanted it ... a little more in front of square would have been great.
Best remembered being ready for battle from the time he heard he was selected to play, but the greeting he received from Botham was surprising.
The night before the game when the final XI was announced I was stunned with disbelief and filled with excitement, said the first Ellerslie student to play Test cricket.
Initially I thought I was not in the team, because my name was called at No. 8. All the batsmen were announced in batting order and then my name came after (Jeff) Dujon and (Malcolm) Marshall.
He remembered spending the night celebrating with friends at the Mona Campus and then returned in a good hour to a pleasant nights rest.
England batted first and were bowled out cheaply for 159, then it was the West Indies turn.
When I came in we were three down and England thought they had a chance, the self-assured Best recalled.
Botham gave me a bouncer first up, and I ducked. The next one he hammered again and it hit me on the shoulder. The third one, I had to defend myself and it went way into the stand.
Batting in his West Indies cap, he reached 35 in a fourth-wicket stand of 68 with Trinidadian Larry Gomes before he was out leg-before.
He did not particularly like the decision.
I attempted a sweep off Peter Willey and was shocked when I was given out. I was batting well with Gomes and felt a little hard done, he said.
Gomes went on to get 56 and the West Indies reached 307. Then, behind the frightening pace of Jamaican Patrick Patterson, who was also making his debut, the West Indies won by ten wickets in three days.
Although things went sunny for the West Indies, there was a dark cloud hanging over Best as he did not feel quite settled in the team.
He remembered getting some bad vibes from some team-mates, but was quick to point out that Gomes was particularly helpful in the early stages.
The excitement of making the Test team was short-lived, as by the fourth Test he was dropped.
He made 22 and nought not out in Trinidad, then 21 at home at Kensington Oval and was dropped for the next game.
I was the most disappointed and hurt man in the world, he said. We were 3-0 up, no pressure was on us and I was unceremoniously discarded. I never had a chance to develop.
It took another four years for Best to get a recall, but this time he made much of the opportunity. He was 30 by the time England returned to the region in 1990 and his century in the Barbados Test will long be remembered.
I made 175 in Jamaica in the Red Stripe Cup game and then had 64 in the Test up there, he recalled. When we reached Barbados I was hoping for something special.
I also had a century in a One-Day game in Guyana and I was absolutely delighted that I could relive that joy in front of my home crowd.
He remembered an important period in that match when he batted with captain Viv Richards.
Batting with the Viv was always an enormous relief, Best said. When he is at the wicket all the attention was switched to him. I remember him telling me: Bessie if you stick around it could get sweet for you.
I hung around and it all paid off.
Source :: The Barbados Nation (http://www.nationnews.com/)