Wed | May 23, 2018

Tony Becca | Colin Bland, a fielder par excellence

Published:Sunday | April 22, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Gus Logie
Jamaica's Shell Shield captain Easton McMorris (left), exchanging greetings with Joe Solomon, Guyana's skipper on the arrival of the Guyanese team at the Palisadoes International airport on February 16, 1969.
Clive Lloyd, captain of the West Indies' two World Cup winning sides, holds aloft one of the trophies during a ceremony honouring the players of the 1975 and 1979 sides at Sabina Park in 2007.
1
2
3

Despite the many sins of apartheid, one of my greatest regrets of the evils on the African people of South Africa is that I never had the privilege of seeing Graeme Pollock bat live and in living colour.

According to those who were blessed, however, including Ali Bacher, who was his captain, Pollock was truly a great batsman and one worthy of comparison with Gary Sobers of West Indian fame.

The other cricketer I regretted not seeing in action, again probably because of Apartheid, was Colin Bland, who died in England two Saturday nights ago.

Although Bland played 21 Test matches, batted at number five, scored 1,669 runs, including three centuries, and averaged 49.08 runs, he was not a great batsman, or even remembered as one.

He was, simply, a great fielder, and a man who won Wisden's Cricketer of the Year award for 1966 based on his brilliance in the field.

In the 1960s, in an age when news out of South Africa was scarce, the name, and the deeds of Bland, was one thing that got away and flashed around the world, including around the West Indies.

The 'covers' was his region of dominance. He patrolled it like a tiger on the prowl. He was called the 'Golden Eagle' because of the way he swooped down on the ball. His speed and his accuracy were legendary.

Whenever the ball went in his direction, batsmen were afraid of running. He was deadly. He was quick, and he seldom missed. His throws were always on target.

And his catches were phenomenal, so much so that it was said that "if you hit the ball in the air against South Africa, you expected to be caught". That was due to one thing, and that was the presence of Bland.

According to the ICC, Bland's fielding "demonstrates that fielding can be both a delight and an exhilarating spectacle through scientific precision".

The world of cricket produced a number of brilliant and amazing fielders and catchers from the 1960s onwards, including Joe Solomon of the West Indies, the man whose arrow-like throw from the boundary ran out Ian Meckiff of Australia to secure the first tied Test match.

There were also men like Chandrasekhar Ghoparde, Jayasinghrao Gadkari, and Datta Gaekwad of India; Paul Sheehan of Australia; Derek Randall of England; the man who once won a man-of-the match award for his fielding, Jonty Rhodes; and Herschelle Gibbs of South Africa; and from the West Indies, players like Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Roger Harper, Faoud Bacchus, and Gus Logie.

There were also some noted for their brilliance around the bat, men like Sobers, Tony Lock and Colin Cowdrey of England, Bobby Simpson and Mark Taylor of Australia, Abid Ali of India, and Rohan Kanhai and Richie Richardson of the West Indies.

Today, T20 cricket has brought with it some extraordinary fielders and especially catchers, men who dart around the cricket field chasing the ball, running tirelessly, and hauling in some fantastic catches, including some tumbling, acrobatic, and sometimes unbelievable catches on the boundary.

Colin Bland was, apparently, one of a kind, however, and based on the skills of those of today, probably one before his time.

 

PAT ANDERSON'S LEGACY

 

"Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime, and, departing, leave behind us footprints on the sands of time."

Those were the words of the immortal Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and those words fully describe the life of Pat Anderson, who died recently and who was fittingly remembered by Olympian Deon Hemmings-McCarty when she spoke of a "great man who was so good to so many people".

Hemmings-McCarty, the first Jamaican woman to win an Olympic gold medal, also said of Anderson "Throughout my entire career, he played a big role in my life. He was more like my godfather. I gave him the name 'Pops'".

And those words could have been echoed by a thousand more boys and girls, young men and women, who passed through Anderson's hands.

Pat Anderson was not a rich man, but he found ways of developing himself and assisting in the development of others, not only in sports, but generally through finding financial assistance for those in need, offering advice, and by providing words of wisdom to those who needed guidance.

I first met Pat when I was attending Wolmer's and playing cricket and football at the then "Race Course", now National Heroes Park, where kids from Allman Town, Kingston Gardens, Fletcher's Land, Jones Town, Admiral Town, and surrounding areas used to play.

He took me and my twin brother under his wing. He was like our big brother.

Pat played football and cricket at Boys' Town, and he was a competent goalkeeper and a flashy wicketkeeper before he moved to Manchester to work with Alcan, Kirkvine.

He quickly got involved at Alcan, and in no time, he was'"Mr Alcan', or following Deon Hemmings-McCarty's lead, 'Pops', and became known around Jamaica and the county of Middlesex, and especially in Manchester, as the man to get things done, particularly in sports.

His love for sports, his knowledge, and his hard work took him to the Jamaica Cricket Association as a board member and a life member; to the Jamaica Football Federation as its president; and to the then Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association as its president.

He was a solid leader who knew his stuff, who loved to help others, who was almost a perfectionist, and who worked hard.

It is true to say that 'Dust', as he was lovingly known, walked with kings but still retained the common touch.

 

100-BALL CRICKET

 

Cricket is evolving, or so it is said. First you had Test cricket, then 50-over cricket, then T20 cricket, then 10 overs, for a short while, and now there is, or will be, 100-ball cricket.

The English Cricket Board (ECB) announced last week the introduction of a 100-ball city-based competition for men and women that is set to get under way this summer .

The competition, to be played as a 15 six-ball overs plus one 10-ball-over affair, will be 20 balls less than T20 cricket.

"Based on traditional six-ball overs, the other 10 balls will add a fresh tactical dimension to the game," said the ECB.