Question & Answer - Alvin Kallicharran
 

Trinidad Guardian article.

Port of Spain, Trinidad - The Sunday Guardian had the privilege, courtesy of the T&T Cricket Board, to sit down for a special interview at the Queen’s Park Oval with West Indian batting legend Alvin Kallicharran during his recent coaching stint here in T&T.

This was his first visit back to the West Indies in 20 years. Now 65 years old, the sprightly and jovial Kallicharran had his young charges lapping up his coaching techniques when we met up with him. He even ended the session by having them bowl at him in the nets, showing flashes of his brilliant left-handed batting of yesteryear.

In 1975/76 calypsonian Maestro sang after the West Indies won the 1975 World Cup: It was a fantasy to see, tiny little Kalli hit Thommo and Lillee boundary after boundary.

This was after the master batsman tore apart the bowling of the Australian great fast bowler Dennis Lillee during one of the World Cup matches (view at www.youtube.com). That onslaught is etched in the annals of cricketing history and folklore—Little Kalli in the days of no helmet and the myriad of other protective gear.

In fact, Kallicharran also had the honour of representing the West Indies in their repeat triumph at the 1979 World Cup four years later. He was also a member of the Guyana Shell Shield winning squads of 1973 and 1975, and he scored five regional centuries including one against T&T of 184. 

During his career, he played 66 Tests (4,399 runs at an average of 44.43 and 12 centuries) and 31 One Day Internationals for the West Indies from 1972 to 1981. He scored test hundreds in his first and second Test matches, a feat few have accomplished.

In his first class career, he played 505 matches scoring 32,650 runs at an average of 43.64 with 87 centuries and 160 50s, while in his One-Day career he played 383 matches scoring another 11,336 runs with an average of 34.66 and 15 hundreds and 71 half-centuries. Out of his 12 Test centuries, four were scored at the Queen’s Park Oval—scores of 101, 158, 103 and 127.

He played county cricket in England for Warwickshire from 1972 to 1992, 20 years, ending in his early 40s. In between and thereafter, he played with Transvaal and Orange Free State in South Africa in the 1980s.

He also had a brief stint in Australia for the state team Queensland in the 1977/78 season. After his Warwickshire days, he did some cricket consultancy and coaching around the world and then became the manager/player for ten years with the Lashings in Kent, England. 

“I’ve made the rounds,” according to Kallicharran. He had the honour of captaining the West Indies team in six matches during the infamous Packer era, losing just one game at the helm.

There is a memorable incident at the Queen’s Park Oval in 1974, when during what many regard as his finest innings, 158 in a match winning inning against England, there was a huge controversy.

While on 142, he watched T&T’s Bernard Julien (who made 86 not out) play the last ball of the first day to Tony Greig at point before walking down the pitch towards the pavilion.

Greig threw down the bowlers stumps and Kallicharran was given out by Douglas Sang Hue. The outcry that erupted then and overnight, led to Kallicharran being reinstated next morning after the future of the tour was put in jeopardy.

Q: Where were you born and where did you grow up?

A: In Port Mourant (contrary to what is shown on Cricinfo).

What schools/institutions did you attend?

St Joseph Anglican School and Port Mourant Comprehensive High School. After high school, from the age of 16, my education was obtained from playing or being involved in cricket regionally and internationally. From then until now, you could say the ‘university of cricket’.

Who are the people who influenced and inspired you the most, in your career and in life in general?

All my uncles on both sides were cricketers. My father captained the local team, so it was cricket all around. We followed them around, fed off the passion and learnt a lot from them.

Interestingly, it was a shopkeeper back in my village, Mr Ramsey and his family, who influenced me in the early days by providing money to travel to Georgetown to see and play cricket, and I was inspired by being in a village that produced so many West Indian cricket heroes like Rohan Kanhai, Basil Butcher, Joe Solomon, John Trim and Robert Christiani.

I also read a lot at the local libraries about earlier heroes like Learie Constantine, George Headley, Weekes, Worrell, Walcott (the 3 W’s), Frank Worrell and then came the genius Garfield Sobers. These were the people who influenced and inspired me the most, people who you copied mentally and physically and felt their vibrations and sense of purpose, those who set high standards and the strong foundations for us who came later.

Between your playing days as a professional cricketer and today, what have you done job wise?

Basically travelling to different parts of the globe doing cricketing consultancy and coaching. These days, I share my time between the USA and England.

What are your plans for the future? What goals and or ambitions do you still have?

We all have dreams but for me, being back in the West Indies after such a long time has had me thinking that it would be nice to finish my life’s work where it all started. But it’s only a dream, who knows.

Why do you think West Indies cricket has deteriorated like it has?

The feeder system leaves a lot to be desired. There are too many gaps from the grassroot to the national and international levels. These gaps are a lot wider than in my era. Also to be a success, you have to be hungry, to want it and be prepared to work hard.

Most of all, you must have discipline. I don’t know how many have the upbringing and the influence in their lives to have that burning desire and discipline to make it happen. The mental strength and understanding that you are in a battle, in a war, you do not see danger or anxiety, but you must win the battle mentally and physically, whether as a batsman or a bowler. That’s how we played as a team in my era and were able to dominate for so long.

What else would you have been if you weren’t a cricketer?

You know Nasser, who knows, maybe a fisherman or a cane cutter back in my village, but my fate was to be a cricketer. It has and continues to be my life.

What is your greatest accomplishment in cricket?

It was to play a Test match for the West Indies which was my dream as a child growing up in my village. That was my greatest achievement in cricket, to wear the West Indies colours at an international level.

It was the highest accolade, prize, award, whatever you want to call it. Of course, there are many medals and trophies, but playing that first Test match back then, nothing can beat that. Being recognised and being invited to contribute to cricket in the West Indies for the first time by the T&T Cricket Board is very special too, I must say.

Is an autobiography in the making?

Many people ask me this question. As a human being, sometimes it’s best to leave the past behind. To go back and dig up and bring out the truth behind the scenes that no one writes about is sometimes best left alone. There is so much to say but who knows, maybe one day…There is a lot I would say about South Africa, for example, and Packer and the West Indies administration in those days. I better keep quiet yes (laughing).

Q: Where were you born and where did you grow up?

A: In Port Mourant (contrary to what is shown on Cricinfo).

What schools/institutions did you attend?

St Joseph Anglican School and Port Mourant Comprehensive High School. After high school, from the age of 16, my education was obtained from playing or being involved in cricket regionally and internationally. From then until now, you could say the ‘university of cricket’.

Who are the people who influenced and inspired you the most, in your career and in life in general?

All my uncles on both sides were cricketers. My father captained the local team, so it was cricket all around. We followed them around, fed off the passion and learnt a lot from them.

Interestingly, it was a shopkeeper back in my village, Mr Ramsey and his family, who influenced me in the early days by providing money to travel to Georgetown to see and play cricket, and I was inspired by being in a village that produced so many West Indian cricket heroes like Rohan Kanhai, Basil Butcher, Joe Solomon, John Trim and Robert Christiani.

I also read a lot at the local libraries about earlier heroes like Learie Constantine, George Headley, Weekes, Worrell, Walcott (the 3 Ws), Frank Worrell and then came the genius Garfield Sobers. These were the people who influenced and inspired me the most, people who you copied mentally and physically and felt their vibrations and sense of purpose, those who set high standards and the strong foundations for us who came later.

Between your playing days as a professional cricketer and today, what have you done job wise?

Basically travelling to different parts of the globe doing cricketing consultancy and coaching. These days, I share my time between the USA and England.

What are your plans for the future? What goals and or ambitions do you still have?

We all have dreams but for me, being back in the West Indies after such a long time has had me thinking that it would be nice to finish my life’s work where it all started. But it’s only a dream, who knows.

Why do you think West Indies cricket has deteriorated like it has?

The feeder system leaves a lot to be desired. There are too many gaps from the grassroot to the national and international levels. These gaps are a lot wider than in my era. Also to be a success, you have to be hungry, to want it and be prepared to work hard.

Most of all, you must have discipline. I don’t know how many have the upbringing and the influence in their lives to have that burning desire and discipline to make it happen.

The mental strength and understanding that you are in a battle, in a war, you do not see danger or anxiety, but you must win the battle mentally and physically, whether as a batsman or a bowler. That’s how we played as a team in my era and were able to dominate for so long.

What else would you have been if you weren’t a cricketer?

You know Nasser, who knows, maybe a fisherman or a cane cutter back in my village, but my fate was to be a cricketer. It has and continues to be my life.

What is your greatest accomplishment in cricket?

It was to play a Test match for the West Indies which was my dream as a child growing up in my village. That was my greatest achievement in cricket, to wear the West Indies colours at an international level.

It was the highest accolade, prize, award, whatever you want to call it. Of course, there are many medals and trophies, but playing that first Test match back then, nothing can beat that.

Being recognised and being invited to contribute to cricket in the West Indies for the first time by the T&T Cricket Board is very special too, I must say.

Is an autobiography in the making?

Many people ask me this question. As a human being, sometimes it’s best to leave the past behind. To go back and dig up and bring out the truth behind the scenes that no one writes about is sometimes best left alone.

There is so much to say but who knows, maybe one day…There is a lot I would say about South Africa, for example, and Packer and the West Indies administration in those days. I better keep quiet yes (laughing).

First Published In The Trinidad Guardian.

Date: 
Sun, 08/03/2014 - 06:08