Sir Viv never chased Gabriel off the field

first_imgLEGENDARY former West Indies captain Sir Vivian “Viv” Richards says he never chased former T&T opening batsman Richard Gabriel off the field during a Benson and Hedges Limited Overs match in Australia in 1984.The “Master Blaster” has been maligned, cursed and abused by local cricket fans who saw the incident as an attack on their own.The episode occurred at Perth in a tied encounter between West Indies and Australia. Clive Lloyd was the captain but Richards was holding on for him when the incident occurred.Larry Gomes, the Trinidadian part-time off-spinner, was operating at the time and bowled a short delivery outside off-stump to Kepler Wessels who was cut down to deep point. Gabriel gingerly running around close to the boundary failed to pick up the ball and it cannoned into the fence.“I never sent Gabriel off the field because I wanted to discipline him as the commentators said at the point in time,” recalls Richards.“Gabriel indicated that he had a hamstring problem so I point that he could go off the field after that effort.“I think Gabriel has finally been able to come clean with the incident and tell people what really happened on that occasion.”The match was the second game of the World Series finals and ended in a tie. Television replays of the incident show Gabriel pointing to his right hamstring after recovering the ball. Gus Logie, his fellow Trinidadian, replaced him on the field for the remainder of the match.After the incident, fans at the Queen’s Park Oval in St Clair, Port-of-Spain, refused to give Richards a good reception until they consumed their choice beverage and the Antiguan was murdering the bowling of the opposition.There will always be “talk” of Viv not liking Trinidadians and this did not go down well with the batting genius as he showed otherwise on many occasions.My own interaction with Viv showed his true colours.Back in 2016 while covering the West Indies versus Pakistan Test series in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Viv would insist that I take a ride back to my hotel with the transport that was provided for him by the television company he was working for, during the series.We spent close to a month in the UAE and grew very close as I was able to get to know the man better and understand his thinking and methods.One night after play had ended in the day/night Test between West Indies and Pakistan at the Dubai International Stadium, I told him that I would see him the next day, as I was about to call a taxi. He called me into his van as he had been doing every day of the Test match.On that evening, another Trinidadian journalist Fazeer Mohammed and part of the television crew had stayed back to complete his assignments so he did not leave with the other van as he usually had done, together with former Pakistan opening batsman Rameez Raja.I didn’t go to Viv’s van because it was filled, as daily, it was occupied by the driver, Viv, Ian Bishop and former Pakistan fast bowler Waqar Younis.Viv told me: “Get into the van.” To which, I mentioned to him that the vehicle was filled to capacity. He told the driver to open the back of the vehicle and commented: “I will not leave my Caribbean brother alone.”Viv said he would sit in the booth of the Landcruiser just to accommodate me. When the driver opened the back, we realised there was a pull-down seat in the vehicle. However, Mohammed volunteered to sit in the back as he was smaller in-built and off we went.This showed his love for his Caribbean brother, a Trinidadian at that, and he was very much willing to assist me.On that tour, we sat together and spoke a lot about politics. We watched clips of his masterful batting and he openly shared his feelings towards his Caribbean people and the deep passion with which he views the region.It was on this tour, he revealed the incident with Gabriel and it was obvious that the entire episode had affected him because the truth was not spoken.On the international scene, Viv is one of the few former West Indies cricketers that will make sure you are comfortable when far away from home. He always says that “when we are far away from home we must stick together as Caribbean people and ensure that we make life easy for each other.”Viv has always been a voice for the voiceless. He was the one who came out openly and suggested to Yorkshire County Cricket Club back in the day that they look at some of the young Asians who were very talented in the Headingley area.He was told by an official that they couldn’t handle the smell of all that curry in the dressing room. Viv hated this comment so much that when the official passed on, he refused to even attend his funeral.The legend Viv has sat with Kings, presidents, prime ministers, and top celebrities, exuding a class that is equal or even above them. Long live, the “King of the Caribbean”.(Reprinted from T&T Guardian)last_img

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