On Thursday evening Derbyshire’s squad, support staff and supporters attended Herbert House, the home of The Cricket Legends of Barbados; a cricket museum and gallery with bar and restaurant. The event was attended by several Barbadian political figures as well as the British High Commissioner plus the cricketers and staff from the other 5 county sides touring Barbados concurrently, Hampshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire and Yorkshire.
The word ‘legend’ is probably – along with ‘great’ – the most overused word in sport. Players with a 5-year ‘career’ at one sporting club are routinely described by some hysterical types as legends, when the players concerned clearly don’t belong in that exalted category.
During a splendid evening of video footage and speeches, two of the finest, fastest and hostile fast bowlers in the history of the game were honoured by the Cricket Legends of Barbados. Unquestionably, individually and as a pair, the two men honoured - Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith - can truly be described as cricketing legends.
Both men spoke about their cricketing careers; Griffith movingly about the issues involving the life-threatening injury to India’s Nari Contractor who he hit on the head with a short-pitched delivery, and the suspicions about his bowling action; while Hall also alluded to his careers after cricket, in politics and in the church.
Other Barbadian cricketing luminaries were also present; Cammie Smith, Joel Garner, Gordon Greenidge and Seymour Nurse – and a Derbyshire favourite (although not a Barbadian) from the early 1990s – Ian Bishop – was also an interested spectator.
But the icing on the cake was the presence of the greatest cricketing legend of them all. That’s statement is, of course, disputable; maybe Don Bradman could justifiably stake a claim for that title, but few would argue that Sir Garry Sobers’ is the greatest Test Match all-rounder in history.
Having seen Sobers’ score a century at Ilkeston in 1974 – the first I ever saw in first class cricket – this was the first time I had been in his presence since. They say you should never meet your heroes, but he was quite approachable and happy to pose for a photograph.
The best story of the night, however, came from Cammie Smith. Alluding to the historic tied Test Match at Brisbane in December 1960 between Australia and West Indies, Cammie explained that this match had been his Test debut and that he had been criticised for only scoring 7 and 6 in the two innings. However, he suggested that had he only scored 6 and 6, the Test would not have been tied, and history would not have been made.
Derbyshire’s players mingled with the players from all the other 5 counties and for Karl Krikken there was a chance to catch up with Bishop – by a couple of yards, the fastest bowler he ever kept to (Krik’s words!) – and some of his fellow coaches.
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