'The greatest honour for me was to play for Windies'

West Indian legend was the first spinner to take 300 wickets

Now settled in Miami, the 76-old Gibbs, who started his career as a leg-spinner, took time off to touch base with Deccan Herald to reminisce about his career, life and issues surrounding Windies cricket.

On his conversion from leg-spin to off-spin: I bowled leg-breaks particularly well, but I couldn’t bowl a googly. So, I would bowl an off-break, and when I did bowled the off-break, because the field was set for a right-hander facing leg-spin, the batsman would score runs off me off the pads.  You know I had to make a decision on what I wanted to bowl, either leg-spin or off-spin. I decided to turn to off-spin, and it was a success story.

On improving his craft without the assistance of a coach:  We never had coaches. So, you listened to what an experienced player from Guyana had to say, even the public in the Caribbean are very knowledgeable about cricket, and you would listen to them.
For example, when I was bowling in England you had to push it more through the air because of the soft wickets there.

But when I got back to Guyana, you would hear guys shouting in the stands, ‘Lance you’re bowling too quick.’ I had to adjust because you are playing on harder wickets.

On his initial experiences as Test cricketer: I played for the West Indies for the first time in 1958-89 against Pakistan. I had been the outstanding bowler in our regional competition in that season, so I figured I had a very good chance of getting into the team. So, I had cried when I was not selected. But in the second innings of that Test Hanif Mohammad scored a triple-hundred.

So, it was a blessing in disguise that I did not play in that game or I might have been history.

On Sir Frank Worrell: He knew how to deal with individuals. In Australia for example, Australians will pick only some players from the hotel, and Sir Frank turned and said if you want us to accept your invitations then you either invite the whole team or none at all. Personally, I think he was the best captain I ever had. He knew the game inside out.

On the best batsman he bowled against: Ian Chappell. He used his feet particularly well to spin bowling. Chappell was a fellow who would try to dictate terms. A fellow like Boycott played within his limitations. But Chappell was aggressive.

On the quickest bowlers he had seen: Lillee and Thomson. Boy, weren’t they quick? But I would also mention BS Chandrasekhar. He was not a fast bowler, but he was a unique bowler, who got unusual bounce.

On bowling along with Hall and Griffith: If you are afraid of Hall and Griffith, when Gibbs comes on you wanna have to hit him.

There was no fear in facing up to a spin bowler. I would have to ensure that that does not happen as far as I am concerned.

Once I got the ball, I used to tell Sir Frank, ‘Quicks are not gonna get this back from me.’

On breaking Fred Trueman’s record: That is the record I wanted to pass. It was a great moment. I remember one guy was running out on the field at MCG to congratulate me.
He had a bottle of champagne with him, but police took him away.

On the current controversies:
The greatest honour that has ever been made is to play for the West Indies. If players are going to bicker all over the place, then I am not for that.

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