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Maim them if you cannot beat them.
by Gulu Ezekiel
Jun 20, 2005
Nearly 30 years after the notorious Test match at Kingston, Jamaica in which the West Indian fast bowlers indulged in blatant intimidation, the plot to maim the Indian batsmen has been revealed.

The man behind the plot has finally been revealed by former Tamil Nadu captain Balu Alaganan who was treasurer on that fateful tour. And he happens to be one of the all-time greats of cricket history.

It was under the captaincy of Bishan Singh Bedi that the touring Indians gave the Clive Lloyd-led West Indians a real scare in the four-Test series in 1976.

After being trounced by an innings in the first Test at Barbados, the tourists came back strongly and would have leveled the series in the next Test at Port-of-Spain, Trinidad if not for rain cutting out the entire first day’s play.

Ironically it would be rain again that brought the Indians back to their favourite ground in the Caribbean, the only one at which they have won a Test match (in 1971, 1976 and 2002).

The third Test was scheduled at Georgetown, Guyana. But a tropical storm meant the authorities had to shift the match back to the Queen’s Park Oval.

India leveled the Test series, winning the third Test by six wickets, scoring a then-world record 406 for 4 in the fourth innings. For the first—and last—time the Windies bowling consisted of three specialist spinners, chosen specifically to exploit the turning track at Port-of-Spain.

The ploy failed miserably and when India finished the rain-curtailed first day’s play (April 21)in the fourth and final Test at Sabina Park strongly placed at 178 for one (Gavaskar 66, Gaekwad batting 60, Mohinder Amarnath batting 26), the alarm bells were ringing away in the home camp.

It was the captain whose job was in jeopardy. Lloyd had just brought his team back battered and bruised from Australia where they had been crushed 1-5. A defeat at the hands of the Indians would surely seal his fate.

The result the next day was the most blatant form of intimidation--‘bodyline’ revisited—from fast bowlers Holding, Wayne Daniel, Vanburn Holder and Bernard Julien with bouncers and even ‘beamers’ aimed at the body of the batsmen.

Three batsmen—GR Viswanath, Gaekwad and Brijesh Patel—required hospitalisation and India’s second innings plight with five batsmen declared ‘absent hurt’ (including Bedi and BS Chandrasekhar) virtually handed the match and the series to the Windies on a platter.

According to an interview with Alaganan in the Tamil Nadu cricket periodical ‘Straight Bat’, “the West Indies selection panel headed by Clyde Walcott [one of the legendary ‘Three W’s’ of Test cricket fame] hatched a plot that night [after the first day’s play] to attack the Indian batsmen.”

Added Alaganan: “It was from my commentator friend Tony Cozier that I learnt about the plot to maim the Indian batsmen. “

The infamous tactics would hold the team in good stead and under Lloyd’s captaincy they lost just one series after 1976 till he retired in January 1985.

The use of four specialist fast bowlers would be continued by Lloyd’s successors and it was not till 1995 that the West Indians were beaten again in a Test series.

In that time span, rival batsmen around the world received more serious injuries at the hands of the Windies quicks than in any other period in cricket history. And it was the Indians under Bedi in 1976 who ‘forced’ the four-man pace attack into the Windies’ gameplan.

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