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Gordon Greenidge

by Saurabh Sharma May 30, 2020 • 21:09 PM

Cuthbert Gordon Greenidge MBE is a former member of the West Indies cricket team and with brooding and massively destructive strokeplay was one of the premier opening batsmen of the West Indies. Gordon Greenidge was as much an integral part of the Caribbean dominance from the mid-1970s into the 1990s as the celebrated pool of supreme fast bowlers.  On the pitch, Greenidge exuded every bit of confidence and panache worthy of a player of his ability. But off it, he seldom appealed to the West Indian cricket fan in the same way as a Viv Richards.

Born in Barbados on May 1, 1951, Greenidge spent his first fourteen years of his life on an island where cricket is followed with a zeal unsurpassed anywhere else. There can be no doubt that these formative years in such an atmosphere provided the groundwork for his love and approach to the game.

His early schooldays at Black Bess School and St Peter's Boys' were spent while fellow Barbadians such as Sobers, Hall, Hunte, Nurse and Griffith were helping to emphasize West Indian Test strength under the captaincy of Sir Frank Worrell.

Gordon Greenidge, therefore, could hardly have been considered a clueless novice about the game when he entered Sutton Secondary School in Reading, his parents' new home in 1965. It was not long before he was in the school team as a middle order batsman, quickly attracting the attention of those keen to find new talent.

He was chosen for the Berkshire Bantams, the equivalent of the county's youth team, and appeared for the South of England Schoolboys against the North and Midlands in 1967. Reports of an innings of 135 not out for the Bantams against Wiltshire youth made Hampshire and Warwickshire offering trials to Greenidge.

He finally joined Hampshire in 1970 and opened the batting with South African Barry Richards and were a formidable pair for them. It was not long before Greenidge was being recognized as a player with definite Test potential and there was natural speculation about whether he would make himself available for England (for whom he was qualified) or whether he would seek to play for his native West Indies. He decided on the latter and returned home after the 1972 English summer.

Greenidge got selected for the West Indies team for the first time in 1974-75 for the long and arduous tour of India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

There were many who were sceptical as to his ability to succeed against an Indian attack dominated by spinners of the highest quality for although he had demonstrated his class against pace, he appeared susceptible to spin. Those doubts were erased in his very first Test match, against India at Bangalore, where he scored 93 (run out) and 107 on a rain affected pitch favorable to the bowlers. While he produced nothing spectacular for the rest of the series and while a back injury forced him to miss the Tests against Pakistan, he had gained from the experience and had established himself as a Test player.

His biggest challenge to date was his confrontation with the Australian fast bowlers on their own grounds in the 1975-76 series, a series which received grandiose publicity but which proved disastrous for the West Indies and for Greenidge.

It had been widely expected that his penchant for hooking and cutting- and that of the other opener - Roy Fredericks - would provide an exciting match for the speed of Lillee and Thompson. Instead, Greenidge could not come to terms with the additional pace of the bowling and the extra bounce and zip of the pirches and was dismissed for 0, 0, 3 and 8 in the only two Tests he played.

His exploits during the summer of 1976 were evidence of this profitable change in his approach. He still despatched the bad ball with all the old gusto and his attacking shots were still executed with the tremendous power generated by his huge biceps and forearms. Yet, there was a noticeable improvement in his selection of the correct ball to hit and in his appreciation of a particular situation.

There have been few more dedicated innings played for the West Indies than his 134 out of 211 in the first innings of the Old Trafford Test on a pitch of uneven bounce and fashioned out of the ruins of a start of 26 for four. In that match, he completed a century in the second innings as well, making him only the second West Indian to pass three figures in both innings of a Test in England. The other was the great George Headley, who did it twice.

That feat was preceded by his 84 out of 182 in the first innings at Lord's and followed by yet another century, his third in succession, in the first innings at Leeds.

Greenidge scored two double centuries against England in the 1984 summer Test series (also known as the "Blackwash" series with WI winning 5–0). He scored 214 not out during the second Test at Lord's in June 1984, then followed up with 223 during the fourth Test at Old Trafford during the last five days of July. The first of those innings was on the last day as West Indies successfully chased 342 for victory; it remains the highest ever run chase at Lords.

He also played many seasons for Hampshire in the English County Championship, and for many years opened with Barry Richards. He began his first class cricket career there before he played for Barbados and could have qualified for England. Late on in his career he appeared for Scotland. In his career he scored 37,000 runs and 92 centuries.

Greenidge was also successful in his coaching career. He became the coach of Bangladesh in 1997. Under his guidance Bangladesh became the champions of ICC Trophy in 1997 along with the chance to play at their first World Cup finals in 1999. Soon afterwards Greenidge was given the honorary citizenship of the country. He also coached them during the 1999 Cricket World Cup and the team was eventually given Test match status after their performance during the World Cup.

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