I wish to congratulate Rohan Kanhai, Lance Gibbs and Clive Lloyd on their induction into the International Cricket Council (ICC) Hall of Fame as part of their centenary celebration. All three of these gentlemen had illustrious cricketing careers that made not only Guyanese proud but also cricket fans around the world.
Kanhai played 79 tests scoring 6227 test runs; however, the statistics did not do justice to his enormous talent. Despite scoring 15 Test centuries that included two double centuries, his inning of 77 against England at the Kensington Oval in 1963 on a worn and difficult wicket was considered as one of his best. Professor Frank Birbalsingh (1996) described this knock as an inning of outrageous dare-devilry, a perfect illustration of Kanhai’s style of knife-edge riskiness, mercurial daring and fertile inventiveness. He made the English target of 250 runs easy, to set up the West Indies victory. Kanhai was particularly successful batting against the Australian speed merchants namely Lindwall, Miller, McKenzie, Hawke, Lillie and Max Walker.
The period 1960-1965 was considered the peak of Kanhai’s career as he scored 429 more Test runs than the great Gary Sobers during this time and was considered the best number three batsman in the world.
Lance Gibbs held the world record as the highest wicket taker for a decade, beating Fred Truman’s 307 Test wickets in Australia (1976). Gibbs produced one of the greatest spells of bowling that read 15.3-14-6-8 against India at the Kensington Oval in 1962. He turned what seemed like a tame draw into a sensational West Indies victory. Gibbs became the first West Indian to take a hat trick in 1961 at Adelaide. During this Test Kanhai scored centuries in both innings.
However, Lance Gibbs’s immaculate figures of 6 for 29 in 1965 at Bourda that mesmerized a formidable Australian batting line-up for a meagre 144 while chasing 357 for victory on a placid wicket remains one of his magical moments. This shows that Lance did not need a helpful wicket to perform.
Clive Hubert Lloyd, apart from being inducted into the Hall of Fame, was also voted the best captain in Test cricket. Lloyd’s early Test career had a few ups and downs, but his moment of glory was winning the first World Cup at Lords in 1975.
Further, no one can forget his magnificent century and partnership with Rohan Kanhai of over 150 runs in the final against Australia after West Indies found themselves in trouble with the loss of three early wickets. Over confidence and complacency prevented the West Indies from lifting the World Cup for the third time in succession under Lloyd’s captaincy as they went down losing by 42 runs to a Kapil Dev-led India in 1983 at Lords. Since becoming captain in 1974 Lloyd peaked as a batsman.
Lloyd introduced the four-prong attack that proved a nightmare for his opponents. As captain, Lloyd displayed tact, discipline and fighting spirit and motivated his team both on and off the field.
These few moments that I cited are only the tip of the iceberg that can never reveal the full picture of Kanhai, Gibbs and Lloyd’s glorious contribution to the game of cricket.
Despite gloomy weather and dark clouds in the horizon, the Guyanese trio in the Hall of Fame ushered in the New Year with something to celebrate. Once again it is the Guyanese cricketers that put us on the map of the world.