I am gathering together some of my writing over the years and posting to The Sound of the Tooting Trumpet, but this piece sits better at 99.94. Apologies to those who have seen it before.
Cricket is not a sport that lends itself to great photography, but it has produced just about my favourite sports photograph.
On one level, this is a photograph of the great West Indies pace quartet of the early eighties, but it’s actually so much more than that.
In the background, one can discern the peaks of the Trinindadian mountains looming over Queen’s Park, Port-of-Spain, a name redolent of the island’s colonial past. The island’s still troubled present is evident in the fences to restrain the crowd and the shabbiness of the stands (now gone in ICC World Cup redevelopment). The outfield is hardly the green baize of Lords with the fierce Caribbean sun having scorched the grass.
But none of that matters when you look at the four men. They stand in line, slightly impatient, but doing as they are told because they are a team with a job to do. But they are also individuals, each adopting a different stance and each finding a different position for their hands. Andy Roberts, Antiguan, stands at the front, the oldest, the subtlest and the acknowledged leader – a man who spoke little, but every word was cricketing gold. Next is Michael Holding, Jamaican, loquacious off the field, silent and devastating on it. Third in line is Colin Croft, Guyanese, constantly aggressive, sometimes ill-disciplined with a vicious delivery angling into the right-hander. Finally Joel Garner, Bajan, an extraordinarily skilled bowler who used his height and long fingers to great effect.
The West Indies pacemen defined bowling for a generation – the reasons are all there in the photograph. For more, read Zepherine’s excellent piece at Pseuds’ Corner.