Chronicles of a curator

Chronicles of a curator

Of pitch and players

Charles Josephs has seen it all from very close quarters, and even before a ball was bowled, he knew the fate of visiting batsmen. When he decided to quit school in the 1950s for the ground staff job at Sabina Park, little would Josephs know that he would be an indivisible part of a colourful history.

“Man I am not Mr Charles, people here call me Charlie,” he begins with a wide grin. “I came to this ground in ‘55, and since then, Sabina Park has been my world. I belong here, and I know every part of this ground and since I came here, I have watched almost all the matches played here.”

So, which is the best knock he has seen at this ground? “Man I saw two, not one. They were played by our boy, Lawr­ence Rowe. It was a great day in Jamaica, I thought all of the country came to watch that match against New Zealand. He started with a double hundred, and Bob Cunis and Jack Alabaster had a tough time against him, and didn’t Lawrence play some fantastic pulls. He didn’t stop there, he made an unbeaten hundred in the second innings, and the Kiwis were tired of him,” Charlie’s eyes twinkle with pride.

He just can’t say enough of Rowe. “There was this saying in Barbados, and mind you it’s tough to get a compliment from the Bajans.

“They say if you don’t have sugar for morning coffee or tea, dip your finger in the drink and say ‘Lawrence Rowe’ and it will get sweet. He was a sweet batsman,” he said.

He has seen a lot of terrifying spells from West Indian fast bowlers over the years. “Walsh was persistent. When he was young, he was quick and loved to bounce the batsmen out. But later, he used to out-think batsmen, an intelligent kid who could bowl quick.

“Ambrose was lethal, his pace and bounce were too much for batsmen. I am a little sad his best spells came in Barbados (against South Africa) and Trinidad (against England).

“But Holding was unplayable in the second innings here, bouncing the Indians from around the stumps (in 1976, when India lost the Test by 10 wickets). Bedi (then Indian captain) had to declare the innings. Jamaicans celebrated a lot then.”

Who is his current favourite Indian batsman? “There are two guys I like, Dravid and Laxman. I was hoping to watch Tendulkar, it’s sad that he didn’t come here.”

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