As the two-time defending champions of the World Cup, the West Indies were seen as the overwhelming favourites for the 1983 edition, to be played in England.
They were the most dominant team in world cricket in test match and one day internationals. They had a settled core of players, with the commanding presence of Clive Lloyd as captain. New players were seamlessly introduced, and there always seemed a new fast bowler ready to replace the aging ones.
In sporting terms, the West Indies bench was strong.
That strength, and the fabric that morally differentiated West Indies cricket from any other, was put to the test during the latter months of 1982. There were whispers, and rumours of West Indian players signing to undertake a Rebel Tour of apartheid ruled South Africa.
The details were sketchy, there were denials and there was an obvious cloud of “hush hush” around the Leeward Islands training camp, as they prepared for the 1983 Shell Shield at the Police Recreation Grounds in Antigua.
As the New Year broke, it became more obvious that the rumours were pregnant with truth, and it emerged that eighteen West Indian cricketers had signed contracts to undertake two rebel tours of South Africa. To legitimise the undertaking, they agreed to be called “honourary white.” The team was to be led by the classy Jamaican, Lawrence Rowe.
Derek Parry, the all-rounder from Nevis, slipped away from the Leeward Islands team camp for his flight to join the rest of the squad. He was confronted by the head of immigration, Inspector Jeremiah “Dods” Joseph, and the news headlines rang out about attempts to confiscate Parry’s passport.
The team resembled a combination of players who were getting past their prime, had injury concerns, regional bullies who couldn’t make a breakthrough and one or two young players who didn’t wish to wait in an uncertain queue. News that Desmond Haynes and Malcolm Marshall had second thoughts, after almost committing to the tour, was welcomed.
It is his refusal to join this tour and others, even when offered blank cheques so to do, that signalled the socio-political convictions of Viv Richards. This was exemplified by his wearing of the ites-gold-green wrist bands. It is a little known fact that Andy Roberts also refused offers to join the tours.
The performance of two Antiguan youngsters in the 1983 Shell Shield gave confidence that the next generation was Page 14 Monday, February 12, 2018 THE DAILY Observer By Zorol Barthley Inside edge Presented by Falmouth Harbour Marina 5th Test West Indies vs India, April 28 – May 3, 1983 ready to take over the baton from Viv and Andy. Richie Richardson’s domination of fast bowlers around the Caribbean made people take notice, as he reeled off hundreds against Barbados and Jamaica; famously hooking Michael Holding in to the sea at Surge Park, Montserrat.
Meanwhile, all-rounder, Eldine Baptiste was putting in consistent enough performances that armchair pundits were earmarking him for international representation soon.
It was in that atmosphere that India began its tour of the West Indies. The heroics of Andy in reviving a dull test match in Jamaica, left Viv to lead the West Indies home in a memorable run chase in near darkness.
After the next two tests were drawn, the West Indies arrived in Antigua leading the series by two to nil, having won in Barbados. Gus Logie, in his maiden series, scored a century in Barbados. His pint size, and speed across the ground, easily made him a crowd favourite. Many turned out when the West Indies practiced at the Rising Sun Ground to get a close up of Logie.
Winston Davis, the Vincentian fast bowler, made his debut for the rested Joel Garner. It is in this series that Malcolm Marshall predominantly bowled around the wicket, and the Indian first innings provided an enthralling battle with Mohinder Armanath and Dilip Vensarkar.
On the third day of the match, the West Indies opening pair of Greenidge and Haynes extended their partnership to 296 under the most extreme of circumstances. Information came through early in the day that Greenidge’s infant daughter was sick in Barbados. As the day wore on, and the partnership piled on the runs, the news was not any better. Radio commentators kept spectators abreast of the situation, and sombre emotions dominated the faces of the fans. Greenidge dug deep, in a situation where it can only be imagined that his mind was far away from the action. It was expected that he would retire anytime, but he soldiered on. Towards the end of the day, Haynes was dismissed.
Overnight, it was learnt that Greenidge had traveled back to Barbados. The rules of cricket dictated that he be ruled “retired out”.
Next morning, Winston Davis, the night watchman walked out with none other than Viv Richards. The word soon spread, and people on their way to the game began to make haste.
Viv didn’t last long, soon edging Madan Lal to Gaekwad at slip; gone for two. A hush came over St. John’s; the ground went numb, commentators stammered for words, drivers went through stop signs, appetites disappeared!
The rest of the game became a mental bore even though Clive Lloyd shepherded Jeffrey Dujon to his first test hundred and collected one himself. The Recreation Ground featherbed was providing a feast.
The groundsmen, headed by Artwell Freeland and Copperhead, had talked up this pitch before the game as one full of pace. Unfortunately, it was far from being so.
The rest day in this game came after the fourth day, as it was Labour Day. The interaction of some West Indies players at Fort James, in the company of the late Police Inspector Romani Browne, certainly enhanced the public holiday.
The game resumed on the final day without much chance of a victory for either team. The formalities became a bit farcical, with the presence of young Antiguan players Richie Richardson and Rolston Otto fielding as substitutes, and extended bowling spells from Richards and Larry Gomes. Senior West Indian players retreated to the pavilion, in preparation for their evening flight to London to participate in county cricket.
When news surfaced a few days later that Greenidge’s daughter had succumbed to her illness, the nation mourned openly. It hurt, we had shared the emotions with him only a few days before and were certainly hoping for the best. She was one of us. Greenidge’s wife, Anita (Sheridan), is Andy Roberts’ cousin; her father is from Urlings and her mother from Johnson’s Point.
Out of respect, and in sympathy with the Greendige family, the International Cricket Council ruled that his innings played at the Antigua Recreation Grounds in this test match would be ruled as “retired not out”. The first and only instance in the history of world cricket.
“Parssa” was beginning to set records!