first_imgFORMER Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies cricketer Larry Gomes has no regrets over blanking the infamous WI rebel tours of South Africa in 1983.Gomes made this point during an interview on the Barbados-based Andrew Mason and Guest radio show, from his home in Toronto, Canada, on Tuesday evening last.Reflecting on the enticement of a spot in the unsanctioned WI rebel team, led by Lawrence Rowe, Gomes said, “I was in Toronto on holidays. The phone kept ringing, Lawrence calling, (Dr Ali) Bacher calling, ‘Crofty’ (Colin Croft) calling, they wanted me to come down and join them down there.”Bacher, now 77, was a former South Africa captain, manager and administrator, who played a key role in organising rebel tours from West Indies, Sri Lanka, England and Australia during the 1980s, when South Africa were banned from international sport due to their apartheid policies.Gomes continued, “I had met with Dr Bacher in Manhattan, (United States) with my advisor Hugh Henderson, at a hotel privately. We went about doing a contract, but I didn’t sign it because I wanted to come back to Toronto and talk to my wife.Former South Africa captain Dr. Ali Bacher played a key role in organising rebel tours from West Indies, Sri Lanka, England and Australia during the 1980s“At the time was the apartheid system so I was in two minds. If I’d gone, I’d be set for a lifetime. With the apartheid thing and studying if I want to go back home (to Trinidad), I don’t think they’d welcome you too much at that time. That made me not want to go there.”During that time, Gomes was yet to cement a place in the WI middle order, which featured captain Sir Clive Lloyd, Sir Viv Richards, Faoud Bacchus, Collis King, Alvin Kallicharan and Gus Logie.“It was very difficult to turn down,” admitted Gomes. “Dr Bacher and I decided not to disclose the contract. I still have the contract but we agreed not to disclose the details.”Gomes, a passionate horseracing fan, and a former racehorse owner, said, “I even had a racehorse in the contract.”However, he noted, “I have no regrets. I was sad for the guys though. The kind of monies they went for, I don’t think that’ll be enough, knowing that your careers would be at stake and that’ll be the end of them. I think I was the only one who negotiated a contract with (Bacher). Most of the guys ended up in South Africa without the contract.”The then West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) banned the players who featured in the 1983 and 1984 rebel tours from playing First-Class and international cricket, under its auspices, for life. The ban was lifted in 1989, and Barbadian fast bowler Ezra Moseley played a pair of Tests, against England, in 1990.Gomes said, “At the time it’s not like the money you’re getting now but it was real good money.”Asked if he has ever communicated with the players who went to South Africa and if they regretted making the trips, Gomes replied, “Maybe some of them were happy that they went but most of them, afterwards, realised maybe they made a mistake by going.If you look at a few of them, for some reason, they didn’t end up well in life (after) going there. You had Richard Austin who turned a vagrant, it was sad to see him in Jamaica. And there were a few others, it wasn’t nice to see having played with them.”The 66-year-old Gomes, who played 60 Tests (3,171 runs at an average of 39.63) and 83 One Day Internationals (1,415 at 28.87) between 1976 and 1987, mentioned the value of country and league cricket in England for helping the WI players of his era become the unstoppable force in world cricket, during the 1970s and 1980s.“Why we were strong (was) most of the players were playing professionally in England,” said Gomes. “There was no restriction on the foreign players. We were used to playing day in, day out.”What will he suggest for the present crop of WI players to improve their game? “To recommend for our guys now, the education level of the guys, especially the younger ones, they need guidance to solve their problems from early on, in crisis situations,” he responded. “They need mentors and advisors. Also, I don’t know how much of them set goals.”During the interview, Gomes mentioned that he enjoyed playing against Australia because of their competitive nature and on-field banter (he scored six Test centuries against them). He also rated his knock of 123 at the Queen’s Park Oval against India in 1983 as his best.With the array of pace bowling during his playing days, Gomes described Jeff Thomson, Michael Holding and Wayne Daniel as the fastest bowlers he faced and his favourite pitches were at Sabina Park, Jamaica (“it was a good atmosphere, I enjoyed it there”), and Adelaide, Australia (“I had a couple centuries there”).On his most memorable moments, Gomes listed his first Test (in June 1976 against England at Nottingham) and winning the World Cup in 1979 (“it was a fantastic achievement”), while the 1983 World Cup final defeat to India was his most disappointing.Gomes also touched on the famous 1984 Test victory against England at Lord’s, London, when Sir Gordon Greenidge made an unbeaten 214 while Gomes was 92 not out, as WI romped to a nine-wicket victory, on the final day.“I always tell him he robbed me of a hundred at Lord’s,” said Gomes, in jest. “At the time, we were concentrating on winning the game. We made it very easily. Gordon went haywire and I played my role, rotated the strike as usual and we got (the total) with overs to spare.”(Reprinted from Newsday)last_img

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