There are times, very seldom, when I become very emotional. This final day of Courtney Walsh's Test career was one of those situations. I would suggest that many at the Sabina Park cricket ground had a tear to shed for Walsh, even as the West Indies won the last Test of this series.
When Marlon Samuels took the lofted catch to dismiss Paul Adams, the last South African batsman, enabling the West Indies to win their first Test since June last year, and condemn the visitors to their first loss in 13 games, no one paid any attention to him at all. Why should they?
Every player, even bowler Merv Dillon, were hugging Walsh with tremendous emotion, euphoria and appreciation. Even the younger ones, those who were just pups when Walsh played his first Test in 1984, joined in the celebrations.
From his first wicket, Australian Graeme Wood in 1984, through his 435th, Henry Olonga, caught at forward short leg by Wavell Hinds, and his 500th, Jacques Kallis, LBW, to his last, Allan Donald, to give him his 519th Test wicket, Courtney Walsh has been the ultimate professional in 132 Tests, producing when it mattered most. Walsh ended the final Test with match figures of 6-93, giving him a final series tally of 25 wickets, more than any player on either team. Yet he is retiring.
What a performer. What a void he now leaves.
At lunch, with South Africa on 209-4, after Neil McKenzie had been dismissed by Dininath Ramnarine for 55, it still looked as if South Africa could pull it off. Kallis was still batting well. Then Ramnarine dismissed Kallis for 51 and Mark Boucher for no score in the same over immediately after lunch. It was all over bar the shouting.
Walsh then collected both Justin Kemp and his last wicket, Donald, before Dillon had the last man Adams.
The celebrations then started in earnest.
Of the win, Carl Hooper said the correct thing.
"While we had lost the series already, we focussed on the final Test so that we could at least start winning again. We have a lot of inexperience in our team and this win will go a long way in getting us to the right attitude for future assignments."
Roger Harper, the West Indies coach, also suggested that he was pleased with the final Test efforts by his team.
"All we had been asking is to get the players being consistent. In this final game they were consistent, not like the others in the series when we had South Africa sometimes on the ropes and let them off. This time we kept the pressure on and it worked well."