13 November 1998

Alvin Greenidge - My First Test

by Philip Spooner

Alvin Greenidge topscored with 56 on his debut.

He's Indebted To Rebels

The controversial events which started and ended his Test career will always stay with him.

Alvin Talbert Greenidge - probably the only Talbert to play Test cricket - started his career against Australia at Bourda, Guyana, in 1978, at the heart of the Kerry Packer Affair that threw West Indies cricket into turmoil and confusion.

His playing days ended turbulently but unceremoniously when he was slapped with a life-long ban for his part in the 1982 and 1983 tours of the Apartheid-torn South Africa with Lawrence Rowe's "Rebel" teams.

Greenidge, an easy-going right-handed batsman, who like his namesakes Gordon and Geoffrey opened for Barbados and West Indies, vaguely remembered the incidents which led to him being called up for the third Test at Bourda.

"I never really got a call from the board," he said. "I was in Guyana to watch the 'real' team play and when they pulled out I was picked to play."

Greenidge, who was 21 at the time, and his buddy, Malcolm Marshall, were staying in Berbice at the residence of Barbados batsman Emmerson Trotman, who was married to a Guyanese.

"Trotman was more excited than I was; he was the one who gave me the news," he said. "Sylvester Clarke, who was also picked for his first Test, brought down my gear and from there I was set for business."

Because of the withdrawal of Clive Lloyd's Packer-contracted men, the West Indies selectors were forced to call up six uncapped players for the game, but Greenidge still felt the team, led by Alvin Kallicharan, gave a good display.

"We lost mainly due to inexperience. They (the Australians) made 362 in the second innings to win, so you can see we also had a fair chance of winning the match," he said. "But Test cricket is a different ball game and we quickly found that out."

In the first innings the tall, elegant opener topscored with 56 as the West Indies fell at 205. The Aussies made 286 in their first innings, and the West Indies slammed 439 in the second innings, with Larry Gomes and Greenidge's opening partner, Basil Williams, hitting centuries. Then two tourists, Graeme Wood and Craig Sarjeant, hit tons as the visitors raced to victory.

Greenidge remembered his half-century in the first innings, but was upset at the manner of his dismissal.

"I was in good knick coming into the game, so I felt really confident.

"My first run came when I tucked a ball through square for a boundary and I was going well after lunch... but the decision I got in the first innings still, up to this day, has left me a bit upset.

"I was going well, and then I got a poor decision by umpire (Ralph) Gosein. I went to hit a ball from Thommo (Jeff Thomson) through the leg side and up went the finger. I went to whip the ball and everyone knew it was high. The appeal was not even a confident one."

Greenidge also remembered his encounter with the lightning-quick Thomson and his pace partner Wayne Clark.

"The wicket was a good pitch, hard and glossy, and good for batting. But in those days there was nothing called a dead pitch.

"Thommo could bowl quick on anything and he had Clark with him and they bowled with good speed."

Greenidge praised colleagues David Murray and Vanburn Holder as two of the best men he ever met.

"Murray was a boss at keeping the team together, while 'Vanny' made the new guys feel relaxed and at home."

Greenidge was in and out of the West Indies team in the years that followed until he decided to tour South Africa which was facing an international boycott because of apartheid.

He does not regret that decision, saying he was glad that he has helped with the development of young, black cricketers, especially those in Soweto.

Source :: The Barbados Nation (http://www.nationnews.com/)