Rowe is sorry for rebel tour to South Africa

Rowe is sorry for rebel tour to South Africa

I was the Laxman of that West Indian line-up, says stylist

“I was the VVS Laxman of that line-up,” the West Indian stylist who set the world alight in the seventies said with a smile. The Jamaican, who now lives in Miami, visited his favourite Sabina Park on Monday, and took some time off to reminisce, apologising to the people of the Caribbean for leading the rebel tour to SA. Excerpts:

On the rebel tour to SA: I led a team of West Indies cricketers to South Africa, and we were banned from international cricket because of the apartheid regime.

The tour completely upset the people of Jamaica and throughout the cricket playing countries in the Caribbean. I sincerely apologise to the cricket fraternity of Jamaica, the Caribbean and the rest of the world.

On the repercussions of the rebel tour: We knew the consequences. When it came to going to South Africa, a lot of players went through the possible consequences, but still went for the financial aspect of it.

We knew we were going to be banned from playing for the West Indies. They took a very tough stand. Barbados were less tough, but Jamaica were very tough. On the ’76 Kingston Test against India:  Man, that was a really fearsome sight. A Michael Holding, believe me, he was so smooth, at his prime barraged Indians with bouncers around the stumps, cramping them for room. They started off well in the first innings and made a near-200 score losing just a wicket.

But we managed to dismiss them for little over 300. But in their second innings, they were not prepared for Holding, and my fellow Jamaican can be nasty when the mood captures him. He was very nasty on that day.

On his best knocks: I think in terms of the best innings, the 302 I made against England in Barbados stands out. I made 175 in Australia in 1978. And in shorter terms, 68 on the 1978-79 tour of Australia which I rank as one of my finest innings. The pitch that we played on and the bowling make that one of favourite innings.

On the best bowler he faced: Dennis Lillee was the finest fast bowler I have played against. When we played at home, Sheffield Shield, we had Holding, Colin Croft, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall all these guys were a serious challenge to play against.

But Lillee was very good at changing pace. In his earlier years, he was extremely quick. Later, he became a much smarter bowler.

On Sir Gary Sobers: My idol is Sir Gary. He was my childhood hero. You could not get anything better than your childhood hero as your first Test match captain. Sir Gary always tipped me to get a big score, and had the gift of prediction.

For me, he had the greatest walk in cricket.  It was a little arched over. He was always immaculately dressed. I haven’t seen Sir Frank Worrell. But a lot of people compare my batting style with his.

On the eye problem that ended his career: I’d scored some three hundreds against Australia, and I was easily the best batsman in that series. But I had to wear a contact lens to correct my eye sight, but in those days contact lenses were very hard and I took time to get used to it. And I never got my sight back properly after that.

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