Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The sound of summer: leather hitting Brian Close

OK, so the West Indies is not the force it once was, its batting is brittle (apart from Chanderpaul of course), its bowling wayward and its fielding too often lackadaisical in the extreme.  But there’s always a thrill about the Windies.  The first time I saw them properly was in 1991, with the fire already starting to die, but I remember Marshall steaming in to Graham Gooch, and Viv Richards still swaggering over his bat.  And that was nothing compared to how they had been in the 70s and 80s.

One session that comes to mind – and I know it’s a cliché so hush – is the evening session at Old Trafford in 1976, with Holding, Daniel and Roberts bouncing the shit out of Brian Close – aged 46 – and John Edrich – a stripling of 37 or so.  Look back at the video now, and it’s a miracle no-one was killed.  The bowlers were bowling at the batsmen's’ heads, and the pitch was spiteful.  Close particularly was bashed about all over the place.  But, as Viv Richards remembered:

"Close got hit in the chest by Wayne Daniel and sank to the floor. OK, I was playing for my country, but this was my county skipper on the ground in pain. So I went up to him, asked: 'Are you OK, skipper?' Closey eventually gathered himself together and bellowed, 'Fuck off.' What a man."

They don’t build ‘em like that any more – either for us or for them.

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