Feature: 1st One Day International West Indies vs New Zealand, March 20, 1985

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The West Indies steamrolled the Australians in the last three tests of the 1984 home series, and headed to England in a rampaging mood.
It was now confirmed that the international career of Andy Roberts had come to an end, as he was not selected for this tour. Instead, the selectors opted for the twenty-year-old Barbadian fast bowler, Milton Small. Due to his towering size, Small was dubbed “Baby Bird”, in reference to his fellow Barbadian Joel “Big Bird” Garner.
It was felt that Andy’s relationship with Captain Clive Lloyd had been compromised for some time, and his standing up for Richie on the Indian tour might have tipped the scale against him.
Andy was the trailblazer of that era of great West Indian fast bowling, and the young fast bowlers who came in to the team subsequently credits him for the father-figure he became to them. Through his tutorship, he developed a strong friendship with Michael Holding.
In the days before coaches and technology were a part of international cricket, a bowler’s ability to work out and then set up batsmen was critical to his success.  Andy excelled in this area, and he is hailed by batsmen around the world for his ability to exploit weaknesses. A tear-away fast bowler in his early days, he was at his most lethal when delivering his renowned two bouncers; one so much faster than the other.
He first came to prominence in the Parish League and had a stint at the Alf Gover Cricket School in England. He honed his skills in the county championships with Hampshire.
Andy was a quiet operator, not a man of many words either on or off the field. He did not seek publicity, and only after his retirement did a lot of people begin to hear him express his opinions more openly. He had spent time working with a young fast bowler from Urlings, who over the past few years had been terrorising batsmen in School League, West Indies Under-19 tournament, Leeward Islands Tournament and the England Under-19s.
George “Rock & Prance” Ferris was quick! He seemed destined to follow his fellow villager into international cricket. On the West Indies Under-19 tour of England in 1982, he had many English counties jostling for his signature. He was advised by Andy to join his at Leicestershire. That tour saw included the other half of the “youthful fearsome”, the big and deceptively quick, Anthony Merrick along with hard hitting opening batsman, Mark Bowers.
During the 1983 county season, he struck Roland Butcher a sickening blow which threatened his eyesight. His stocks and reputation gathered pace, and his name was on every cricket fans lips. Unfortunately, he struggled with injuries and he never really hit the heights expected of him.
Rolston Otto had broken the long standing Shell shield batting record during the 1984 season, and was considered unlucky not to have made the England tour. Otto had prepared for his record breaking season under the watchful eyes of Taddy Arrindell.
Taddy, a former Antigua and Leeward Islands wicketkeeper/batsman, took over as Combined Schools Coach from Guy Yearwood in 1983. One of his first acts was to redevelop the Factory Cricket Grounds, and relocate the team’s practice sessions from the East Bus Station and Rising Sun Grounds.
Taddy doubled as coordinator of the Parish League working out the Sports & Games Department. Fitzroy Brann headed up that department, and allowed Taddy the full rein to develop and implement his plans. Therefore, Parish League cricket even had the “Taddy rules”, as he was of the opinion that the people who wrote the rules of cricket did not understand our cricket.
“The Ayatollah”, as he was quickly dubbed, compromised for no one; that was rule number one!
He made a critical interjection during the first year of his dual role. A young talented cricketer, Winston Benjamin, was brought before Taddy on a disciplinary matter arising from a Parish League game. It was reasoned that he was too young to be suspended, so Taddy ruled that his punishment was to show up the next week to practice with the Combined Schools. At this stage of his development, Winston had only played cricket in sneakers, never having worn cricket boots. Within months, he was representing the Antigua and Leeward Island Youth Teams, made his senior debut within one year and was touring with the West Indies within four years.
There is an interesting story about Winston’s selection to the Leeward Islands Youth team of 1983. After a trial match in Montserrat (Antigua vs Combined Montserrat & Anguilla), the Chairman of Selectors, Kenrick Isaac, shared with Taddy the proposed team. He ad vised Isaac that in their choice of Kenneth Benjamin, they had selected the wrong Benjamin, and the selectors duly made the change.
The West Indies team duly completed its first “Blackwash” of England on the 1984 tour, and made it eight consecutive wins on the trot. The Englishmen didn’t have a chance, as the West Indies’ dominance over powered their hosts. Richie struggled early on the tour, having played in a few one day games. Predominantly a back foot player, his technique against the moving ball was thoroughly examined. Eldine played in all five tests, making critical contributions throughout; none more so than a stupendous run out at Lords. Viv had a lukewarm tour, scoring only one century and one half century.
They extended that winning streak to eleven with victories in the first three tests of the subsequent series on their tour of Australia later in the year. Viv was having a torrid tour, and a double century in the fourth test was his only significant score in the series.
Clive Lloyd retired from international cricket at the end of the Australian tour, and without a choice, if somewhat reluctantly, Viv Richards was appointed as Captain of the West Indies Cricket Team.
Having played international cricket for over a decade, and been described as the most dominant player of his era, if not in the history of the game, Viv’s elevation was most welcomed at home. On his return from Australia, the entire country showed our appreciation. Just like we did when he and Andy returned from their first tour of India in 1975, we were there to say “thank you.”
Viv’s appointment created a unique situation in the history of Antigua’s cricket, when for the first time two Antiguans were captain of West Indies Cricket teams. Yours truly, was at the time, the Captain of the West Indies Under-19 team that defeated the touring England Under-19s.
Hugh Gore was the first Antiguan to captain a West Indies Team, doing so when he led the West Indies Under-19s vs Australia in 1973. Gore, at the time, was at school in Barbados, and was also the captain of the Barbados Youth Team.
On March 20, 1985, Viv threw the toss in a one day international at the Recreation Ground vs New Zealand, heralding the start of a new era. One that saw the West Indies not losing a series under Viv’s leadership.
The West Indies won the game. As if in a celebratory mood, Viv predominantly hit the New Zealand fast bowlers “across the line”, and scored a sublime 70, leading his team to an easy victory.
This set up the test series for an easy victory, and a seamless transition was made in West Indies cricket. One that had been eagerly awaited by the cricketing world. West Indies cricket administrators and supporters fastened their seatbelts!

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