Sandy Strang: Gordon Greenidge calls for tougher tests for Scotland
He promised he would return. And he kept faith. The Barbados batting maestro, whose savage Lord’s assault on England’s feckless attack in 1984 is widely regarded as one of the truly great Test innings, came back to town.
Greenock town. Last Saturday. And it wasn’t just a social call.
Within just six years of his brutal HQ tour de force – an eviscerating 234 from just 242 balls after David Gower had the temerity to declare – Gordon Greenidge had raised sporting eyebrows by swopping his West Indian shirt for the blue and maroon of Greenock CC: “I can honestly say I hold Greenock very close to my heart,” he said. “Playing at Glenpark in 1990 and 1992, and for Scotland also, was a very nice part of my life. I’ve kept in touch with several of the boys like Tom Black. One of the best things about cricket is that you can meet up with one-time team-mates, and it’s as if you’ve never been away from the place.”
Yes, Greenidge was back once more to the Tail o’ the Bank specifically to help unfurl a new Greenock club flag during the tea interval in Saturday’s home match with Falkland. The same man who, along with Desmond Haynes – also ironically once a Scotland B&H overseas player back in 1984 – formed arguably the finest-ever opening partnership in Test cricket history. It was certainly the most enduring and run-replete, as they racked up more runs, nearly 6,000, than anyone else, and featured in 16 century stands, four of these in excess of 200.
None can say Greenidge didn’t deserve the honour in this 150th Anniversary season for the Glenpark club. In just 43 matches for Greenock, he notched over 2,300 runs at an average of 62.89 and a top score of 157. He was also proud to don the dark blue of Scotland in six innings, the highlight being an assured 50 on his 39th birthday on his debut in a B&H match against an Essex side including Graham Gooch, Brian Hardie, Mark Waugh, Derek Pringle and Neil Foster.
One local wag on Saturday was even moved to ask if Gordon, now 61, had brought his whites, as his former colleagues slumped to an inglorious Scottish Cup exit by the embarrassing margin of 138 runs, skittled out by the visiting Fifers for a meagre 116.
His past glories may be great, but Greenidge prefers to focus on the future. Unsurprisingly he has much of import to say about Scotland’s current situation: “You can only make so much progress if you are playing against countries at the same level. You need to play against teams who are better than you, and you need to do this on a more regular basis than is happening at the moment.”
In a remarkable piece of serendipity – or perhaps there’s a causal link to this week’s visit to Scotland of Alan Isaac, newly installed ICC President? – Cricket Scotland CEO Roddy Smith went on record to echo Greenidge’s sentiments, with a projected strategy “to play outside Scotland more. We’re looking at taking the national squad to New Zealand and South Africa on winter tours.” Nothing concrete yet, note. We can only hope Smith’s words come to fruition – and soon.
Meanwhile it’s back to a few convivial beers and some pleasant meanderings down memory lane for Greenidge. The Caribbean batting legend who wittingly exchanged the blazing Barbados sun for the dreich smirr of Greenock – and loved every moment of it!
Bailey spared Australian axe
England 4 Australia 0. Australia’s heaviest defeat in the 40-year history of ODIs. Chastening stuff. And make no mistake, the Aussies do not suffer failures gladly. A cull beckoned.
Sure, they were without Ricky Ponting, and specialist ODI “finisher” Michael Hussey. Then rookie quickie Pat Cummins was crocked early on, before Brett Lee and Shane Warne limped off at the death. But the brutal bottom line is they simply weren’t good enough. Manager Mickey Arthur admitted as much mid-tour: “We seem a little submissive. We’re looking for a bit of the mongrel. The guy who’s going to put his hand up, and change the game.” They didn’t find him. Peter Forrest for one failed once too often. He’s jettisoned.
Another whose head was decidedly on the selectors’ block for next month’s ODIs and T20 matches against Afghanistan and Pakistan in the UAE is a face familiar to Scots fans. George Bailey, the talented Tasmanian who played for Grange in the SNCL in 2007 and managed 21
appearances for the Saltires in 2007 and 2010 had a chequered mini-tour.
Bailey may well be the incumbent T20 skipper. He may well have ended up Australia’s leading run-scorer in England. But he started out at No 3 and ended up at 7. A failure to convert a start of 29 at Lord’s preceded 65 at No 5 at The Oval, but it was a laboured effort followed by a further questionable display at Chester-le-Street, bowled for the fifth successive time. A belligerent 46 in 41 balls at Old Trafford in the final ODI probably saved him meantime. Veteran Brad Hogg, 41, Cameron White, Callum Ferguson, and uncapped Victorian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell were all called up this week. The spotlight reverts to Bailey. He has much to prove.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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