Today’s On This Day takes us back 42 years and again we are in India, at Bangalore.
The great stars of the game always have to debut, you always have to have a first test, but it must be exceedingly rare that two of the all-time greats debuted on the same day. In the 1st Test of their tour of India, the West Indies awarded debuts to Cuthbert Gordon Greenidge and Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards. Their careers would span over 15 years, they would be integral to taking West Indies to the top of the world and keeping them there, and they would provide us with many memories. If a cricketer is ever as iconic as Viv in my watching days (keep your Sachins, Viv defined “aura”) then I can’t wait to see him. Gordon Greenidge seemed to miss out on the plaudits, but anyone who saw his 214 not out at Lord’s on the final day of the match to win a famous victory in 1984 should have no doubt. He was the opener of his generation (along with Gavaskar, I suppose).
Greenidge had the more auspicious Day 1. He made 93 before being run out. His dismissal brought Viv to the crease, who hit a boundary and then got out to Chandrasekhar (who would also get him in the second innings). Greenidge would make a century in his second innings to help set up a massive win for the West Indies by 267 runs.
Opening the attack, Abid Ali and Solkar were quite unable to harness the pitch’s favours. Moreover, Greenidge who made 93 in his maiden Test innings, was twice let off before he had made 15.
He and Kallicharran, who came together at 38, when Fredericks retired with a sprained ankle, put on 139 in just over even time. Even this partnership was ended with a run out and so it was not until the last hour of the day, when Richards holed out at mid-off, that India’s bowlers at last struck a blow.
22 November saw the introduction of two cricketing legends, two childhood behemoths, two massive influences on my cricket watching. I never got to see either in the flesh (though I did see Gordon at Dublin Airport when he was the coach of Bangladesh). I got to see plenty on TV, either county or international cricket. That day in Bangalore is one of the most significant in cricket lore. Two stars on the ascendant.
As a postscript, also making his debut that day was Hemant Kanitkar for the home team. He would last just two matches, batting at three in his first innings and making 65, he followed it up with three low scores and was never seen at international level again. Poor Hemant died last year. Being an international cricketer should never mean you are a footnote, but I’m not sure I’d mind being a footnote to those two.