'I did it for my mom'

'I did it for my mom'

You were saying cricket was just a job, so how did you start playing it?

I started playing cricket because of my mother. She’s got three sons and she always wanted one of us to be a cricketer. My older brother used to play club cricket, but he then migrated to the US at a very early age. I was next in line and my mother basically forced me to play cricket. Then I tried to please her and the rest is history.
I was selected to play for the West Indies to play in an ODI at Jamaica in 1988. The day before we left for Jamaica, I was still playing basketball. It took me two years to realise this could be my profession.

Was it tough to break into the Windies team coming, from a smaller island like Antigua?

It was very difficult to get into the West Indies team from Antigua. There have been a lot of great cricketers who we thought would have made the West Indies team. In those days, they looked only at Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana. They never considered us from Antigua, the Leeward Islands and the Windward Islands until Andy Roberts made the team in the early seventies. And since then, Antiguans started to get selected quite often, like Viv (Richards), Eldine Baptiste, Richie Richardson and a few of us.

Tell us about your relationship with Courtney Walsh…

Walshy and I didn’t start off as friends. He was there four years before I came. I came into the team at the retirement of Garner and Holding, and they started comparing me with Garner. He was the Big Bird, so I became the Little Bird. I didn’t want to be the weak link in the team. My friendship with Walsh started two years after that, when we became room-mates.

We became good friends because he loved cricket. It was his life, and for me it was a mere job. We were different. In fact, Dessi (Haynes) said to me that he had never met a cricketer like me because I don’t talk cricket like some other guys who talk cricket at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The toughest batsman you bowled at…

David Boon. You have some batsmen who you can look at the eyes and rattle, but never with Boon. Steve Waugh was very tough.  At times, he could look out of sorts. But I can tell you, he’s not going to surrender.

You remember that battle with Waugh in the 1995-96 series?

I am not usually like that. That particular series in 1995, we were in danger of losing our No 1 status. I believe I got a little frustrated. He said something to me that I didn’t like. But it started right there on the pitch and ended right there. Yeah I wanted to hit him then.

Sad to see the state of affairs in WI cricket…

I played two years more than I expected. I wanted to retire in 1998. I just had enough, and I need a new challenge in life and I was getting fed up of cricket. Walshy told me: ‘Man, we can’t leave now. We have to nurture these young fast bowlers. If we leave now, it could be worse’. And I said for the sake for West Indies cricket, I will hang on longer. I spent two years trying to teach these guys, and Walshy spent an extra year. But it didn’t work and now it’s getting worse all the time. I don’t see when it’s gonna change for the better.

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