Saturday, 21 January 2012

On this day - George Headley, David Gower and Water Balloons.

A quiet day for cricket today, so I thought i'd do a short 'On this Day' post.

21st January 1948 - George Headley. 

The 21st January 1948 made cricketing history, as George Headley became the first black player to captain the West Indies. Headley led his team to a draw against England at the Kensington Oval, Barbados, falling to Jim Laker in the first innings for 29. For reasons unknown to me, he batted at 11 in the second innings, making an unbeaten 7, before declaring on 351-9, setting England 394 to win. England were 86 for 4 when the match was brought to a close. This test was the 20th of Headley's 22, in a war-interrupted career spanning 24 years. Headley, hailed as 'The Black Bradman' accumulated 2190 runs at an average of 60.83, with 10 centuries, 8 of which came against England. 

Headley was never meant to be a cricketer. Whilst waiting for his passport to go to the United States to study dentistry, he was selected to play against a visiting English team led by Tennyson. After 78 in the first innings, and 211 in the second, Headley never looked back. Making his test debut in Bridgetown in 1930, his second test innings yielded 176 runs. This was followed by 114 and 122 in his 3rd test, and a marathon 224 in his 4th. A true genius, Headley destroyed attacks all over the world, and knowing his team's hopes rested on his shoulders, loved to play the big match-winning innings. Headley served as a beacon for West Indies cricket, with former Jamaican president  Michael Manley hailing him as 'black excellence personified in a white world and a white sport'. One of the West Indies' true greats, it's a shame he didn't get the opportunity to showcase his endless talent in more than a handful of games. 

21st January 1991 - David Gower and John Morris.

Less significantly, 21st January marks the anniversary of David Gower's and John Morris' infamous Tiger Moth prank on the 1990/91 Ashes tour to Australia. Annoyed at losing his captaincy, and oppressed by strict regime of Graham Gooch,  Gower suggested hiring a Tiger Moth biplane to buzz the match between an England XI and Queensland. Having smashed two centuries earlier in the series, Gower, assured of his form, got himself out cheaply, feeling the game to be a waste of time. Gower and Morris took to the skies, buzzing the game with Robin Smith and Allan Lamb at the crease. They had intended to drop water bombs on their teammates, but luckily, for those on the ground anyway, the pilots managed to talk them out of it. Both players were fined £1000 and banned from the following summer's tests against the West Indies. 

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